In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Rutgers University and University of California, Riverside. 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.
- Both Rutgers and UC Riverside have good academic placement rates
- Rutgers students tend to focus on LEMM subjects, whereas UC Riverside students are more often in Value Theory
- Both have above average racial and socioeconomic diversity
- Students and graduates say they "definitely would recommend" both programs
- The lowest ratings for both programs were for teaching preparation
Overall placement, 2012-present
Rutgers had 54 PhD graduates in this period, whereas UC Riverside had 25. Of Rutgers's 54 graduates, 51 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 29 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (57%), with 15 of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy (29%). UC Riverside placed 15 of 24 into permanent academic positions (63%), with 3 in philosophy programs with a PhD (13%).
Of Rutgers's other graduates, 11 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 10 have other temporary academic placements, 3 are in nonacademic positions, and 1 has no or unknown placement.
Of UC Riverside's other graduates, 1 is in a postdoctoral or fellowship position, 5 have other temporary positions, 1 is in a nonacademic position, and 3 have no or unknown placement.
Nonacademic positions held by graduates of Rutgers include software engineer and non-profit, whereas those held by graduates of UC Riverside also include software engineer.
The average salary of Rutgers graduates is $70,643 and 95% preferred an academic job, whereas this is $71,667 and 100% for UC Riverside graduates.
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, 61% of Rutgers students are in Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind (LEMM), 19% are in Value Theory, 5% are in History and Traditions, and 15% are in Science, Logic and Math. 34% of UC Riverside students are in LEMM, 41% are in Value Theory, and 25% are in History and Traditions. For Rutgers, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in LEMM (55%), whereas the plurality of those from UC Riverside were in History and Traditions (40%).
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, 32% of those from Rutgers are women, as are 24% of UC Riverside students.
The current database percentage is 31% for all past graduates and current students.
Including all past graduates and current students, 22% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from Rutgers and 21% from UC Riverside 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.
27% of those from Rutgers were first generation college students, as were 83% of UC Riverside students.
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 Rutgers provided two public comments on how philosophy could be more inclusive. (Students from UC Riverside did not provide any such public comments.)
Cheaper admissions for graduate school. More consciousness about disparate price of colleges when evaluating graduate school applicants. More awareness of the challenges facing first generation and low income students.
There are lots of good ideas already out there. Hire more women and people from underrepresented groups; work to eliminate bias in publishing; encourage more students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue philosophy; make sure conferences are representative; etc.
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 Rutgers students selected "definitely would recommend" (4.7, n=27), as did UC Riverside students (4.7, n=15).
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," Rutgers students selected "neutral" (3.4, n=17), whereas UC Riverside students selected "satisfied" (3.9, n=9).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," Rutgers students selected "very satisfied" (4.6, n=17), whereas UC Riverside students selected "satisfied" (4.4, n=9).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students, Rutgers students selected "satisfied" (4.3, n=17), as did UC Riverside students (4.1, n=9).
(Note that these comments primarily come from current students and recent graduates, but in some cases may be from non-recent graduates.)
Rutgers students provided public comments on the program overall:
(in no particular order) 1. Relative chances on the job market 2. Quality of Potential Supervisors 3. Climate of the Department, Commitment to Inclusion 4. Quality of Funding/Support vs. Cost of Living 5. Grad Student Community 6. Breadth of Topics Studied/Taken Seriously 7. Proximity to Major City
Amazing professors and fellow grad students, great academic culture, good funding, many professional opportunities, etc.
[Rutgers Professor] is amazing. There is a high level of philosophical acumen among the other graduates students, so you can learn a lot from them. The program is very highly regarded within professional philosophy, which can help with your career. It is an extremely active department, with a lot of events and philosophy conversation. Almost every faculty member answers almost every emailed question within a few hours. They are very supportive.
It has a large and inclusive graduate student body and is well-positioned to get its graduates jobs.
The amazingly high quality of the faculty and graduate students; the collaborative feeling of the environment among grad students and faculty (not competitive; lots of generous discussion); and huge institutional support, from both the faculty and the graduate school. Also, we have a great placement record, and a department (and former faculty, including my advisor) that supported me getting to a TT job long after I had graduated.
The community at my institution was helpful, friendly and supportive. The faculty are excellent philosophers, and I had excellent experiences in their seminars and in meetings. My committee members were exceptionally helpful and supportive. The program and my committee also spent a great deal of time preparing me for the job market. The department also has a relatively good placement rate (excellent compared to other programs, though still bad, due to the market).
The program is excellent, with fantastic and supportive faculty and graduate students.
The program was supportive and academically top-notch. When I was there, the graduate student community was supportive and got together regularly to talk about philosophy in a variety of professional and non-professional contexts.
on preparation for teaching:
Rutgers was, in a way, a great place to learn to teach because you almost always taught your own courses. (This is a function of the fact that it is a large state university.) But there was very little preparation for teaching. You mostly just got assigned a class and then you figured it out as you went. I was definitely not a good teacher to start, but I improved quickly (I hope!).
The program gives graduates students a lot of experience with undergraduates, both as TAs for tenured faculty and as graduate instructors of their own classes. As instructors graduate students are encouraged to make their own syllabi and teach in ways that reflect their interests. The graduate student union negotiates good contracts and there are a number of professional development modules offered by the university.
The program provided many opportunities to solo teach courses. In addition, the department was supportive of letting graduate students teach some courses of their choosing (e.g., such as in an AOS or in an AOC).
There was little professional preparation, but all the graduate students were very good teachers and the faculty were happy to answer any questions.
on preparation for research:
Rutgers has a large faculty and while all the faculty are quite busy, I found that people would make time to give careful feedback on graduate student work. (Some were better than others, of course.) The fact that you have a lot of students around you at all stages of graduate school means that you can learn a lot from your fellow students too.
The faculty I worked with were excellent at encouraging and supporting academic writing as well as conference participation. They helped with selecting venues for publication and with feedback on drafts.
The required Third Year Paper Seminar was designed to help students to bring a seminar paper up to publication-quality, and I found it to be a big help in that regard.
There are very high levels of philosophy discussion. The faculty are very supportive.
There is strong support for the research projects of graduate students. The faculty are highly invested in supporting graduate student research.
This is the focus of the graduate school, naturally, and the preponderance of well-published faculty members offers many opportunities for interaction and mentorship.
and on financial support:
Because the philosophy department is a flagship program, it provides good stipends during coursework. Because the graduate and faculty unions are strong, graduate student instructors are well-paid and have good healthcare while teaching and writing their dissertations.
I got 5 years of guaranteed funding, and only had to teach for 2 of those years. So there was plenty of time for doing my own work. As a result, I was able to get out quickly and not try to survive for years making very little money. While I got out in 5, I know lots of people who stayed for 6 or 7 and continued to get funding from the department.
I was fully supported and did not need any additional work and did not need to take on any debt. I felt financially free to pursue my studies.
The program provides generous support and opportunities for additional funding (e.g., summer grants).
UC Riverside students likewise provided public comments on the program overall:
Riverside has a wonderfully supportive atmosphere, with a variety of reading groups and workshops that promote student development and sometimes even collaboration. I felt motivated to do write continuously, and to explore new ideas in my writing, without feeling any sense of competition with other students.
The Dept at UCR is genuinely pluralistic, collegial, and supportive. It is also rigorous. Faculty and graduate students care about each other and the Dept. Faculty work very hard to help place graduates.
The University of California at Riverside Philosophy department is a wonderful environment in which to study philosophy. The faculty and students are congenial, conversation is lively and respectful, and there is mutual interest in what colleagues are doing. It is also a wonderful place in terms of professional training and preparedness. All graduate students are employed as teaching assistants and are mentored by the instructors of record. There is a rotating faculty advisor to the graduate students whose job it is to help prepare for the job market. While a student in the department, we had workshops and roundtables in which we discussed anything from reviewing dissertation chapters to surveying a collection of teaching and research statements, cvs, etc., and discussion of best practices. The faculty gave practice job interviews. The faculty were, as a general rule, available for questions and approachable. In part due to this training and in part due to the work of the faculty on behalf of the students, the job placement record for UC Riverside is very high. The faculty are well-respected in their fields of expertise. In fact, in 2017, QS World University Rankings reported that UC Riverside’s Department of Philosophy ranks No. 1 in the world for the frequency with which published papers are cited by other philosophers.
on preparation for teaching:
I received much instruction and mentoring in the pragmatics of teaching. Every term I spent at UC Riverside, I was employed as a teaching assistant, and during summers I was given the opportunity to be the instructor of record for a course.
and on preparation for research:
I had two faculty advisors (the first passed away during my time there). Both were very involved in my research. They were both meticulous in going over my papers, footnotes, etc. I met with each of them on a weekly basis and the discussions were substantive and encouraging.