Philosophy PhD Programs: University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of York

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of York. These programs were chosen randomly, using an app called "Pickster." (Next week's picks are listed at the bottom of this post.) I updated this information myself, using the program's placement page and what I could find online. I aim to construct these posts with an eye to what can be seen about the programs from the APDA data set alone. This information has come from several sources, including current students and graduates. Prospective graduate students should look at the websites for the programs, linked above, for more complete information. The running tally includes select numbers from all of the programs covered so far.


  • York does not have a placement page and information on its graduates was difficult to find, leading to a large percentage of unknown placements and very little survey information
  • Similarly, UMass is currently updating its placement page, so I had to do some cross-referencing, leaving a few graduates with unknown placements
  • With this in mind, the permanent placement rate for UMass appears to be just above average, whereas York's is very low
  • The majority of students in both programs are in LEMM
  • UMass is below average on gender, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, but its students recommend the program very highly

Overall placement, 2012-present
UMass appears to have had 24 graduates in this period, whereas York has had 32. UMass placed 9 of these graduates into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (38%), with none of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy. York has placed 2 into permanent academic positions (6%), and 1 into a program with a PhD (3%). Of UMass's other graduates, 1 is in a postdoctoral or fellowship position, 8 have other temporary academic placements, 3 are in nonacademic positions, and 3 have no or unknown placement. Of York's other graduates, 6 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 4 is in another temporary academic position, 5 are in nonacademic positions, and 15 have no or unknown placement. UMass graduates reported an average salary of $83,000, and 100% preferred an academic position.

Note that 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 are 37% and 12%, respectively, with an overall average salary of $71,879.

Areas of Specialization, by Category
Including all past and current students in the APDA database, 62% of UMass students are in LEMM, 26% are in Value Theory, 9% are in History and Traditions, and 4% Science, Logic and Math. 60% of York students are in LEMM, 24% are in Value Theory, 10% are in History and Traditions, and 7% are in Science, Logic and Math. For UMass, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in LEMM (78%). For York, this was split between LEMM and Value Theory.

Note that the current database values for all past graduates and current students are 27% in LEMM, 34% 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 UMass are women, whereas 29% of York students are women.

29% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. Current database values are 31% for all past graduates and current students, 37% for current students, and 28% for past graduates.

Including all past graduates and current students, none of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from UMass identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic.

13% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The current percentage in the database is 15%.

17% of UMass past graduates and current students who answered questions about socioeconomic status were first generation, with students spanning the middle to upper classes.

The percentage of all survey respondents who are first generation college students is 23.3% (CI: 20.7% to 26.0%), compared to 31% for all United States doctoral degree recipients in 2015.

UMass students provided one public comment on how philosophy could be more inclusive:

Continue its move towards a broader cannon---both in its historical and contemporary forms.

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 UMass students selected "definitely would recommend," on average (4.9, n=7). UMass did not have a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating, excluding current students. Of 65 programs with at least 10 survey participants who are past graduates, 15 had moderate negative correlations between these values (6 had moderate positive correlations, and there is a slight negative overall correlation of -.07).

"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, 4.0 for research, and 3.8 for financial support.

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for undergraduate teaching," UMass students selected "satisfied" (4.3, n=7).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," UMass students selected "satisfied" (4.4, n=7).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," UMass students selected "satisfied" (3.9, n=7).

Public Comments

UMass students left the following public comments about their program overall:

Small philosophy faculty size relative to other PhD programs meant that grad students are able to interact closely with all philosophy faculty members.
Supportive environment. Pro-active engagement with job-market students. Faculty who are seriously committed to their scholarship while personally interested in the well-being of their students.
I felt very supported by the faculty, and felt like the faculty were actively invested in helping us find jobs.
1. The department is focused broadly on analytic philosophy, which leads to much collaboration amongst faculty and grad students. 2. The faculty all get along quite well, which lends itself to a smooth and well-functioning department. 3. The department cares about diversity and tries to promote it both in faculty hires and graduate admissions. 4. The graduate students are friendly and welcoming, and in general the climate is good. 5. The funding is decent. 6. Placement record is very good.

on training for teaching:

I served as both a Teaching Assistant (grading and leading discussion sections for large introductory courses) and a Teaching Associate (teaching my own small introductory courses) while in graduate school, and those experiences were invaluable. Most of the guidance I received about teaching took the form of on-the-job training, which worked well in my case.

and on financial support:

I received a full tuition waiver and modest salary in exchange for serving as a teaching assistant and teaching associate; that worked for me.
Department funding is guaranteed for 5 years, and is usually available for a 6th. The first year is usually a non-working fellowship, after which funding comes from either TA-ing or teaching. While the ample teaching opportunities are appreciated, sometimes it seems like it takes up too much time and thus detracts from dissertation completion. Further, the amount of funding is barely above the poverty line. Any increases in funding support come from union efforts, not the department. A summer fellowship is also provided but only for the first year. Many students need to get jobs in the summer to survive financially, and again this takes a lot of time away from research.

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

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