Philosophy PhD Programs: University of Manchester and University of California, Berkeley

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are University of Manchester and University of California, Berkeley. 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.


  • Instead of providing a complete placement page, Manchester has long-form alumni profiles
  • Thus, the information we have on Manchester may be less complete than that on Berkeley
  • With that in mind, Manchester's permanent academic placement rate is below average, whereas Berkeley's is above average
  • Manchester students were primarily in LEMM or Value Theory, whereas Berkeley students tend to be in LEMM
  • Berkeley's students rate it very highly, with an average rating of "definitely would recommend"

Overall placement, 2012-present
Manchester had 23 PhD graduates in this period, whereas Berkeley had 43. Of Manchester's 23 graduates, 20 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 4 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (20%), with 1 of these in a program that offers a PhD in philosophy (5%). Berkeley placed 23 of 39 into permanent academic positions (59%), with 15 in philosophy programs with a PhD (38%).

Of Manchester's other graduates, 6 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 3 have other temporary academic placements, 3 are in nonacademic positions, and 7 have no or unknown placement.

Of Berkeley's other graduates, 10 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 3 have other temporary positions, 4 are in nonacademic positions, and 3 have no or unknown placement.

Nonacademic positions held by graduates of Manchester include travel and design, whereas those held by graduates of Berkeley include teacher, analyst, and software developer.

The average salary of Berkeley graduates is $91,933 and 94% preferred an academic job, whereas too few Manchester graduates provided salary or job preference 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, 40% of Manchester students are in Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind (LEMM), 50% are in Value Theory, 7% are in History and Traditions, and 3% are in Science, Logic and Math. 49% of Berkeley students are in LEMM, 16% are in Value Theory, 22% are in History and Traditions, and 13% are in Science, Logic, and Math. For Manchester, graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in LEMM or Value Theory (50% each), whereas the plurality of those from Berkeley were in LEMM (48%).

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, 25% of those from Manchester are women, as are 28% of Berkeley students.

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

Including all past graduates and current students, 15% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from Berkeley identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic. (Too few from Manchester provided this information to report.)

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.

21% of those from Berkeley were first generation college students, but too few Manchester 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 Berkeley provided some public comments on how philosophy could be more inclusive (Manchester students did not):

1. In general, a more ‘user-friendly’ rather than ‘user-hostile’ grad school experience. More thoughtful policies and procedures s.t. people don’t fall through the cracks. 2. Data, data, data. This survey is probably the first low-hanging fruit I’d want to see addressed, so I’m glad it’s happening. We need data within programs, and between programs to see: which programs and policies are working, what the trends are. Importantly, we should be collecting data on those who leave grad school: Why did they leave? What do *they* think would’ve helped them stay in the field? 3. Best practices, more systematization. In general, it seems to me like a lot of departmental procedures still depend on the faculty point person or staff member. This is bad organizational design. As much as possible departmental procedures should be written down and subject to routine oversight. (For example: how teaching preferences are collected and how teaching assignments are determined.) As part of this, it would help for more departments to make their internal procedures public, or for the APA, or other groups, to offer best practices guides. (Which, I believe, they already do! So the idea is: keep doing that, and keep expanding those efforts.) 4. Better infrastructure for online discussions. Currently, a lot of important discussions about academic philosophy happen on Facebook, or in the comments sections of blogs, or on anonymous forums. Ideally, we’d have a better way for philosophers to have these conversations in an open way, and in a way that pushes the conversation in positive directions. PhilPeople might be moving in this direction? But what I would like to see something like a moderated philosophy-wide forum. Only professional philosophers are allowed to contribute. Human moderators play a role in enforcing a code of conduct, and surfacing high quality discussions. Maybe that code of conduct is, itself, determined by the participants, or differs depending on the subforum/group of moderators.
1) Some (but not all) of the problems of diversity are problems in the pipeline. We should provide more and better opportunities to underrepresented minorities at the undergraduate level *and* in helping them along towards graduate school. My current department does some work in this vein, and I wish it did more and I wish it was a more general thing. 2) I think the emphasis on travel to promote work is a problem for people who cannot travel much (e.g. due to disability). 3) A few years ago, Gabriele Contessa tried to suggest that some of the same problems that are experienced by traditional underrepresented groups are also experienced by foreign students and in general members of the profession for whom English is not a first language. He was quickly shut down in social media discussions, but I think he was onto something and I think the profession as a whole would benefit from a more ESL friendly attitude.
The canon should reflect the diversity of philosophical traditions. Efforts should be made to include minority and women philosophers on syllabi, as well as inviting them to give talks, etc.

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 Berkeley students selected "definitely would recommend" (5.0, n=20). (Too few Manchester students answered this or the following questions to report.)

Berkeley did not have 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," Berkeley students selected "satisfied" (4.1, n=14).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," Berkeley students selected "satisfied" (4.4, n=14).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students, Berkeley students selected "neutral" (3.4, n=14).

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

Berkeley students provided public comments on the program overall:

Faculty, even famous ones, work closely with grad students. Supportive environment and great peers.
High quality of professors and instruction. High quality of other graduate students. Collegial attitude and interactions among people in the department. Strong placement. Guaranteed graduate student funding for almost unlimited years. Wonderful place to live.
I graduated from the Logic Group. It is a sensational program and I am happy and proud I did it, but financial support is less than in the philosophy program in a way that would affect my recommendation to potential applicants.
Most important: Overall quality of research being done, Overall quality of teaching/seminars/advising. Also important: grad student community, departmental culture.
The emphasis on integration of the history of philosophy, and openness to a wide range of approaches and traditions - together with rigor etc.
The faculty and graduate students are first rate; many of the faculty care deeply about teaching; smart and energetic undergraduates make the teaching component of the graduate program very rewarding; and the geographical location is unbeatable.
The most relevant consideration with respect to question 1, for me, would be placement record, followed by department climate. My PhD program has had quite a good placement record over the past few years (all things considered), and I found the climate to be very positive and supportive during my career there.

on preparation for teaching:

There was a teaching seminar for first time teaching assistants that gave us the opportunity to work through challenges that we were facing. The faculty take teaching very seriously, so working with them for a particular class was always itself a learning experience. The vast majority of the graduate students were also extraordinarily passionate about teaching and that really kept me motivated to do my best even when I was facing challenges.

on preparation for research:

I got significant feedback on written work and ample chances to present my research in a variety of settings.
More preparation on how to publish - and earlier - would have been very helpful. And I write that as someone who is also grateful for the lack of pressure to publish put on us as graduate students - a pressure that graduate students at my current program very much feel.
We learned how to conduct research from some excellent professors. Importantly, they had a variety of research styles (the way they worked, the way they organized their research lives, the types of research they produced), so we had a variety of models to consider. Faculty was also very supportive in reading and discussing our own research, as were other graduate students in the program.

and on financial support:

The Bay Area is one of the most expensive rental markets in the world and compensation is really not adequate, especially for student families. But the faculty are aware of this and working towards solutions.

(Manchester students did not provide any public comments on the program.)

Next week I hope to look at University of Oklahoma and Tilburg University. Feedback is welcome, at

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