In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Michigan State University and London School of Economics and Political Science. 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.
- LSE and MSU are both mid-sized programs, with similar academic placement rates and graduate student ratings
- LSE students focus on Science, Logic, and Math; whereas MSU students focus on Value Theory
- LSE has better placement into PhD-granting programs
- MSU has better gender diversity
- MSU students provide higher ratings for teaching preparation and financial support
Overall placement, 2012-present
LSE had 39 PhD graduates in this period, whereas MSU had 44. Of LSE's 39 graduates, 32 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 11 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (34%), with 8 of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy (25%). MSU placed 13 of 39 into permanent academic positions (33%), with 1 in a philosophy program with a PhD (3%).
Of LSE's other graduates, 10 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 7 are in other temporary academic positions, 7 are in nonacademic positions, and 4 have no or unknown placement.
Of MSU's other graduates, 5 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 15 have temporary academic placements, 5 are in nonacademic positions, and 6 have no or unknown placement.
The average salary of LSE graduates is $61,689 and 90% preferred an academic job. The average salary of MSU graduates is $73,167, and 100% preferred an academic job.
Note that removing nonacademic positions from the total number of graduates in reporting permanent academic placement is a new standard for this project. According to the old standard, the overall proportion of 2012-2016 graduates from the 135 programs tracked by APDA in permanent academic positions is 36%, with 11% in PhD granting programs. The current database values for all 2012 and later graduates according to the new standard are 42% and 15%, respectively, with an overall average salary of $68,542 and 90% who prefer an academic job.
Areas of Specialization, by Category
Including all past and current students in the APDA database, 13% of LSE students are in LEMM, 33% are in Value Theory, 5% are in History and Traditions, and 50% Science, Logic and Math. 14% of MSU students are in LEMM, 63% are in Value Theory, 19% are in History and Traditions, and 5% are in Science, Logic and Math. For both programs, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in Value Theory (64% for LSE; 54% for MSU).
Note that the current database values for all past graduates and current students are 28% in LEMM, 34% in Value Theory, 24% in History and Traditions, and 14% in Science, Logic, and Math.
Including all past graduates and current students, 33% of those from LSE are women, as are 48% of MSU students.
29% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The current database percentage is 31% for all past graduates and current students.
Including all past graduates and current students, 13% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from LSE and 12% from MSU 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 20%, but this is likely inflated relative to the true population due to some of our data gathering efforts.
11% of those from LSE were first generation college students, but too few from MSU 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 LSE provided public comments on how philosophy could be more inclusive (MSU students did not):
Make philosophy more directly relevant to medical science, social sciences and politics
Not really sure, this is a hard question. Paying systematic attention to how underrepresented groups are present at various levels would be a start.
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 LSE students selected "somewhat likely" (4.1, n=14), as did MSU students (4.2, n=11).
Both programs had a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating: LSE's is positive (.30, graduates of more recent years give higher ratings) and MSU's is negative (-.34, graduates of more recent years give lower ratings). 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.
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for undergraduate teaching," LSE students selected "satisfied" (3.8, n=11), whereas MSU students selected "very satisfied" (4.6, n=5).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," LSE students selected "satisfied" (3.8, n=11), as did MSU students (4.0, n=5).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," LSE students selected "neutral" (3.1, n=11), whereas MSU students selected "satisfied" (3.6, n=5).
LSE students provided a few public comments on the program overall:
small but very active and lively program; very good supervision carried out by two faculty members; great variety of graduate students, with diverse philosophical interests; set within a big school of social science, with all academic ressources available nearby. At the time I studied there, most of the PhD students received funding and/or TAships.
Expertise of faculty, specificity of the department: probably the only one in the world offering a degree entirely in logic and philosophy of the natural and/or social sciences. Environment and facilities are top-level.
High academic level; friendly and respectful climate
My area of interest is alternative (Chinese) medicine and various epistemological issues surrounding its concepts as well as methodological issues in clinical trials for Chinese medical interventions (observational studies versus randomized clinical trials). The PhD program at LSE provided an excellent background for researching these issues.
The department was friendly and flexible. The programme was well run. The academic quality of the researchers at the department was very high.
on preparation for teaching:
I cannot really say for I already had quite a lot of experience with teaching when I entered the program; but I was duly supervised and mentored when I asked for it.
Undergraduate teaching is something one learns on the way, but the LSE provides intensive preparation courses, and also requires members of staff to supervise the first couple of classes and provide advice.
We received thorough training (for which we were paid) and the opportunity to receive a qualification in teaching and learning.
on preparation for research:
First class supervision with one of the best academic in my field; although I worked primarily on a historical topic with which she was only partly familiar, she was great at balancing philosophical and historical considerations, was critical but keen on helping and pointed towards other academics who might be of help; as for the department, it encouraged us to run a PhD seminar, go to conferences, and funded various activities we set up by ourselves;
Whilst I received good advice and preparation for my PhD and for my future career there was too little guidance and support on preparing papers for publication and no opportunity to co-author with a senior academic, although I understand that other students on the same programme did receive more of this kind of support.
and on financial support:
I obtained both scholarships from the LSE and from other British institutions. If I am not wrong, I ended up not paying anything throughout my entire stay. Student halls also make it cheaper to live on site.
I was well supported financially via a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Indeed was slightly better off during my programme than in my first job.
MSU students did not provide public comments on the program.
Next week I hope to look at University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University. Feedback is welcome, at firstname.lastname@example.org.