Philosophy PhD Programs: Florida State University and York University

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Florida State University and York University. These programs were chosen randomly, using an app called "Pickster." (Next week's picks are listed at the bottom of this post.) This information comes from the APDA database, and was updated by my research assistant, Anna Durbin, using the program's placement page and what she could find online. The running tally includes select numbers from all of the programs covered so far.


  • FSU has above average permanent academic placement, whereas York U is below average
  • Most students in both programs specialize in LEMM or Value Theory
  • Both have above average racial/ethnic diversity, but only York U is above average for gender diversity
  • FSU has below average student ratings, whereas York U is slightly above average

Overall placement, 2012-present
FSU had 33 PhD graduates in this period, whereas York U had 30. Of FSU's 33 graduates, 24 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 12 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (50%), with none of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy. York U placed 9 of 27 into permanent academic positions (33%), with 1 in a philosophy program with a PhD (4%).

Of FSU's other graduates, 3 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 9 have other temporary academic placements, and 9 are in nonacademic positions.

Of York U's other graduates, 3 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 9 have other temporary positions, 3 are in nonacademic positions, and 6 have no or unknown placement.

Nonacademic positions held by graduates of FSU include bioethics, consulting, pastor, behavior analyst, and software engineer, whereas those held by graduates of York U include law and health.

The average salary of FSU graduates is $74,429 and 67% preferred an academic job, whereas too few York U graduates provided this information to report.

The current database values for all 2012 and later graduates now in permanent academic positions, out of those in academic positions overall, is 42%, with 14% in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy. The average salary of all graduates who took part in the survey is $68,542 and 90% prefer an academic job.

Areas of Specialization, by Category
Including all past and current students in the APDA database, 37% of FSU students are in Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind (LEMM), 46% are in Value Theory, 8% are in History and Traditions, and 10% are in Science, Logic and Math. 33% of York U students are in LEMM, 33% are in Value Theory, 16% are in History and Traditions, and 18% are in Science, Logic, and Math. For FSU, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in LEMM (67%), whereas the plurality of those from York U were in Value Theory (44%).

Note that the current database values for all past graduates and current students are 28% in LEMM, 33% in Value Theory, 24% in History and Traditions, and 15% in Science, Logic, and Math.

Including all past graduates and current students, 27% of those from FSU are women, as are 41% of York U students.

The current database percentage is 31% for all past graduates and current students.

Including all past graduates and current students, 19% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from FSU and 22% from York U identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic.

13% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The percentage from the Diversity and Inclusivity survey is 14%. The current database percentage is 21%, but this is likely inflated relative to the true population due to some of our data gathering efforts.

13% of those from FSU were first generation college students, but too few York U students provided this information to report.

The percentage of all survey respondents who are first generation college students is 23.4%, compared to 31% for all United States doctoral degree recipients in 2015.

Students from FSU provided two public comments on how philosophy could be more inclusive:

Affirmative action, for one. Hire more female/monitory professors and grad students. Require all departments to teach feminist philosophy, critical race theory and the like. Fire (even tenured) professors who sexually assault or harass their students/co-workers. Tenure is for protecting ideas not predators. Teach philosophy (including feminism and critical race theory) in elementary schools. Get kids thinking about these issues before they grow up on to the racist and sexist people I have to deal with on a daily basis. Hold each other accountable for being racist/sexist (especially in class). At my university we have a climate committee. I’m pretty sure they don’t really have any real power, but if a well-respected professor tells you to shop being sexist/racist/homophobic, then you might stop for fear of losing their respect/a reference from them. That works for grad students, for professors, they need to have people explain to them that their actions aren’t right and won’t be accepted, if that doesn’t work, they need to be shunned from the community or fired depending upon the severity of their actions. All philosophers should be required to do community service. And real community service that actually gets them involved in the community. Not “I went to church— community service done.” It should be secular or if it’s done through a church it should be work actually helping people and not just prosthetising. I think a prison outreach program would be a great idea. Teaching philosophy in prisons would help both the prisoners and the philosophers to expand their horizons and not just hang out with other privileged white people.

I feel most confident speaking about this in the context of inclusion for learning disabled people. What I would find extremely helpful is if philosophers made available audio recordings of their articles. This could be done either by being linked to on philosophers professional websites, or journals could provide a link to downloadable audio next to the article. Having the article read by the author is a significant improvement over text to voice computer translation.

Program Rating

In response to the question: "How likely would you be to recommend the program from which you obtained or will obtain your PhD to prospective philosophy students?" past and current FSU students selected "somewhat likely" (3.7, n=15), as did York U students (4.1, n=7).

Neither university has a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating. Of 69 programs with at least 10 survey participants who are past graduates, 14 had moderate negative correlations between these values, 7 had moderate positive correlations, and there is a slight negative overall correlation of -.06.

"Somewhat likely," 4.0, is the average rating reported in 2017. The current database overall average is the same, with an average of 3.7 for teaching, 3.9 for research, and 3.7 for financial support. It is worth noting that some students give lower ratings to their program because they would not recommend a graduate education in philosophy to anyone or because they think it is more difficult to find employment from that program for reasons that have little to do with the quality of that program.

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for undergraduate teaching," FSU students selected "neutral" (3.0, n=9), but too few York U students provided this or the following information to report.

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," FSU students selected "neutral" (3.3, n=9).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students, FSU students selected "neutral" (3.4, n=9).

Public Comments
(Note that these comments primarily come from current students and recent graduates, but in some cases may be from non-recent graduates.)

FSU students provided public comments on the program overall:

Excellent instruction in action theory, plenty of support from the department. My adviser goes above and beyond in helping me develop both philosophically and professionally. Unfortunately there is not all that much support from the school itself, though the graduate student union does help with that somewhat.
Friendly, social work environment and great faculty.

on preparation for teaching:

We do not prioritize teaching and graduate students are often underprepared for teaching their own courses. The department, on the whole, does not seem to care a great deal about the quality of the classes that undergraduates take. There are only a few pedagogically-aware instructors.

and on preparation for research:

Most (but not all) all faculty in this department seem to publish regularly (or recently). As long as you talk to these faculty, you will get decent preparation for academic research. Also, people in other departments seem happy to train philosophy grad students in their discipline.

and on financial support:

The stipend is enough given the cost of living in Tallahassee, though it is still nice to have an additional source of income. Its also nice that the MA students get the same funding as the PhD students.
The stipend is generous and the health insurance subsidy is generous. We get more than most of the other humanities graduate students do at our university.

York U students likewise provided public comments on the program overall:

While I found the program to be very good, I had decided to do my PhD at York university because I wanted to work with [faculty member], who has since retired. I know there are other excellent professors, but I am not as familiar with their research and their courses since many were hired after I completed my course work.

on preparation for teaching:

The job preparation given to me was more than adequate. However, I would not advise students to pursue a career in philosophy for independent reasons. I actually wish that I had received worse job preparation, as doing postdocs was the worst experience of my life.
The program was committed to providing teaching development through workshops for graduate students. Between working as a teaching assistant and those workshops, I found I received excellent experience and information necessary for teaching. I did find, however, that several professors in the department placed primacy on research and publications over teaching experience and I was even discouraged by some members of faculty from taking a teaching job at a college because they argued that it would hinder my chances of getting tenure at a university.

on preparation for research:

Some professors created course assignments that enabled students to do the kind or research and write the kinds of papers that you might find in a journal or at a conference. In at least two courses, I either published or presented papers (at conferences) from work I developed in those classes. Other classes, however, had more traditional assignments that did not easily cater themselves to publishing or presentations.

and on financial support:

I received a one-time entrance scholarship that greatly helped in my first year in addition to the work I did as a graduate student. I often, however, had issues securing summer work to pay for the required summer semesters. As a result, I often had to work summers outside academia to cover tuition and life expenses. This delayed the writing of my dissertation.

Next week I hope to look at University of Missouri and University of British Columbia. Feedback is welcome, at

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