In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are University of Texas at Austin and Indiana University, Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. 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.
- UT Austin is a mid-sized program, whereas Indiana HPS is relatively small
- The academic placement rates of both programs are about average
- UT Austin students focus on LEMM, whereas Indiana HPS students focus on Science, Logic, and Math
- UT Austin students give it a low rating, both overall and on specific measures (especially financial support)
- Very serious allegations of sexual harassment are described in the comments for UT Austin
Overall placement, 2012-present
UT Austin had 43 PhD graduates in this period, whereas Indiana HPS had 11. Of UT Austin's 43 graduates, 36 went into academic or unknown employment, and they placed 16 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (44%), with 7 of these in programs that offer a PhD in philosophy (19%). Indiana HPS placed 4 of 11 into permanent academic positions (36%), with none in philosophy programs with a PhD.
Of UT Austin's other graduates, 3 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 10 have other temporary academic placements, 7 are in nonacademic positions, and 7 have no or unknown placement.
Of Indiana HPS's other graduates, 2 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 3 have other temporary positions, and 2 have no or unknown placement.
Nonacademic positions held by graduates of UT Austin include teacher, manager, university administration, analyst, and software engineer.
The average salary of UT Austin graduates is $72,167 and 100% preferred an academic job, whereas too few Indiana HPS 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, 52% of UT Austin students are in Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind (LEMM), 26% are in Value Theory, 17% are in History and Traditions, and 4% are in Science, Logic and Math. 18% of Indiana HPS students are in History and Traditions and 82% are in Science, Logic, and Math. For UT Austin, the plurality of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in LEMM (50%), whereas the majority of those from Indiana HPS were in Science, Logic, and Math (75%).
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 UT Austin are women, as are 19% of Indiana HPS students.
The current database percentage is 31% for all past graduates and current students.
Including all past graduates and current students, 14% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from UT Austin and 25% from Indiana HPS 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.
18% of those from UT Austin were first generation college students, but too few Indiana HPS 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 UT Austin provided one public comment on how philosophy could be more inclusive:
Philosophers should learn statistics instead of relying on thought experimentation, preconceived priors, and anecdotes when debating issues such as gender bias, which are empirical matters.
As did students from Indiana HPS:
For one, socially relevant philosophy and feminist philosophy and philosophy of race need to be more widely accepted as the legitimate intellectual pursuits they are. There also needs to be more institutional structure at the departmental level for reporting and disciplining of perpetrators. Students need to feel and to be safe reporting, especially when faculty are the problem.
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 UT Austin students selected "neither likely nor unlikely" (3.4, n=16). (Too few Indiana HPS students answered this or the following questions to report.)
UT Austin did not have a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating (-.26). 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," UT Austin students selected "neutral" (2.8, n=13).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," UT Austin students selected "neutral" (3.2, n=13).
In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students, UT Austin students selected "unsatisfied" (2.3, n=13).
(Note that these comments primarily come from current students and recent graduates, but in some cases may be from non-recent graduates.)
UT Austin students provided public comments on the program overall:
Great place to learn: excellent, available faculty and good grad student community. I would advise female prospective students to discuss the climate for women with current female students and faculty. My impression is that there are no current problems, but there have been in the past.
Low employment prospects given UT Austin Philosophy is not a top 10 program
My experience at UT has been positive as a result of the sense of collegiality and collaborative community here. I feel safe to ask questions that might seem remedial, but I also know I will be challenged. The faculty and staff are generally warm and willing to help. The faculty are generous with their time. And I have formed some of my closest friendships from my graduate student colleagues. Of course, there are [sic]
Not a lot of support from faculty, especially with respect to professionalization.
Texas provides top-notch training in cutting-edge analytic philosophy, and does so with a no-holds-barred, old-school, argument-based approach. It was a sink-or-swim environment, with a high attrition rate. But those who made it through the program became good philosophers and did well on the job market. Also, the city itself is a great place to live (aside from the summers). I really valued my time there.
The department is rigorous and demanding and I felt like I got very high quality training as a researcher. Austin is also a very desirable place to live and (relatively) affordable (at least as compared to major US cities). The department is also very strong in the areas of my research and so there were many faculty members to talk to and other students working in related areas. During the years I was a student there was also a very vibrant and happy student community.
There are a number of known serial harassers and assaulters. I had personal experience of harassment and assault with four of them. The name of one, [name omitted], is now public due to University sanctions. The department chair knows about all of the predators and protects them for the sake of department rankings. There are almost no women or professors of color on the faculty. There are no women of color on faculty. The department is extraordinarily hostile to anyone who is not a white man. Pretty much only logic and philosophy language are taken seriously. There is no transparency in departmental decision-making regarding TAships, fellowships, or awards. It is a horrible place that shows no signs of getting better.*
*I decided recently, for another post, to omit the mention of personal names. In that case the mention was positive and I did so to protect the identity of the speaker. In this case it protects the identity of the person mentioned. I take it that "department chair" does not reveal identity (since the speaker could be a past graduate or current student, so it is unknown which department chair they might be referring to).
Two other non-public comments mentioned sexual harassment by faculty in this program.
on preparation for teaching:
All graduate students are required to TA. Some graduate instructor opportunities exist.
There is no advice or preparation provided for undergraduate teaching.
Undergraduate teaching is not heavily emphasized and may be treated as a distraction from the real work of research. But there are resources available to help you improve, if you seek them out.
on preparation for research:
Previous graduate students had exemplary publication records.
The direction is mostly out of touch with job market needs. Faculty primarily direct students to work in areas of core analytic philosophy, in which there are very few jobs. Any area of practically engaged philosophy and any area based in situated knowledge is discouraged.
and on financial support:
Graduate stipends are sufficient but not competitive. Almost always graduate students must support themselves during summers.
We are paid less than most graduate programs, and the chair of the department does not seem to care.
We have no guaranteed summer funding, and do not make a living wage.
Indiana HPS students likewise provided public comments on the program overall:
1. Good faculty in terms of research and teaching 2. Interdisciplinary program (HPS) and good relationships with several sci departments such as cog sci and bio 3. Good atmosphere, both faculty and graduate students
on preparation for teaching:
Advisers and other faculty were a great help when it came time teach; we also offer (and require for first years) a seminar in pedagogy
There are no efforts underway (which other students seem to dislike), but in the past all teaching training was left to advisors and instructors.
on preparation for research:
We are required to write grants beginning our first year and to present a qualifying paper on our own research by the third year. I found these good milestones to structure my research trajectory.
and on financial support:
In general I think graduate stipends should be higher (not just at this university), especially due to extra costs that students have such as the semester fee. Although our program does a good job of updating grad students with new opportunities for extra/supplemental funding (travel grants, research grants etc.)
Next week I hope to look at University of California, Riverside and Rutgers University. Feedback is welcome, at firstname.lastname@example.org.