Bottom Quartile of Philosophy PhD Programs Ranked by Average Student Rating with Placement Rate and Student Comments

In the last three weeks I have posted some information about philosophy PhD programs, ranked by average student rating (you can see the other three posts here: http://placementdata.com:8182/tag/2021-top-programs/). This week I am covering the bottom quartile.

One thing to note about the bottom quartile is that most of its members do not have a student rating; those programs are instead ranked by permanent academic placement rate (those graduates between 2011 and 2021 placed in permanent academic jobs divided by those placed in temporary academic jobs or with no placement record). Those without student ratings tend to be smaller programs (half the size of those with student ratings). For this reason, the total number placed in permanent academic positions is lower for the bottom quartile than for the third quartile, and this difference is statistically significant. The remaining 12 programs have a mean student rating of 3.1, compared to 3.7 for the third quartile (this difference is also statistically significant).

Thus, in this blog post I collate updated information about 33 philosophy PhD programs in philosophy:

  • keywords (if 3+ participants chose the keyword),
  • average program ratings by past graduates and current students (if 5+ participants rated the program on that dimension),
  • job placement,
  • and public student comments (with identifying information removed).*

This includes roughly the bottom quartile of the full list of 123 programs and is ordered by average student rating in the first place, placement rate in the second. (Note that small differences in order should be treated with a grain of salt and the bottom of one quartile will be virtually indistinguishable from the top of the next.) There is a table with some of the information included in this blog post here: https://prezi.com/i/xlzuqydltzt6/. Programs excluded are those with no 2020/2021 graduates in the database and those with no placement page/dissertation records. All values that are above average by at least one standard deviation are bolded. See the last two research reports for details on methodology, participation, etc.

You can link to the post at: http://placementdata.com:8182/bottomquartile2021/

*People/programs that wish to respond to material presented here can do so in the comments, below, or by reaching out to me directly. My current policy is to remove personally identifying information when possible in advance, but I will otherwise do so when notified by the affected parties.

91) University of California, Santa Cruz

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Analytic

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.3 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
22 total, 4 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (25% placement rate)

92) University of Washington

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Analytic, Applied, Bioethics/Medical Ethics, Epistemology, Ethics, Gender/Feminist, History and Philosophy of Science, Political

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.3 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 4.6 teaching preparation (very satisfied); 3.3 research preparation (neutral); 3.6 financial support (satisfied); 3.5 program climate (satisfied)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
28 total, 10 in permanent academic jobs, 4 in non-academic jobs (42% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
A couple of factors prevent me from recommending my former graduate program: -Insufficiently inclusive intellectual and social environment, with too much boundary work about what counts as philosophy and persistent hiring of traditional philosopher from overrepresented backgrounds/interests. -Insufficient support for placement and job search, in part due to the state of the field but also because professors leave graduates to fend for themselves (aside from the occasional reference letter). My understanding is that these features are not unique to my program.
All members of my dissertation committee are now either retired or elsewhere, which tempers my enthusiasm for recommending the program. That said, several existing faculty (especially mid-career folks) are strong as mentors regarding teaching, research, and professional development.
the department is not supportive of candidates in their attempt to obtain employment; the department is not a diverse environment
The program does not have a track record of successful placement as compared to other top-50 ranked programs. They fail to discourage weaker candidates from leaving the field, and instead allow them to stall-out and waste their time. Stronger candidates get decent support, but tend to struggle on the job market. Department culture is good, as in friendly and collaborative (depending on what subfield the student is in), but there is certainly an emphasis on value theory, gender issues, race, and liberal or progressive politics, and department members who are more to the "right" politically, and those who resist some aspects of the more "left" political/social agenda may feel isolated and devalued. There is not much debate in these areas. Instead, these issues are largely treated as already decided, and those with dissenting opinions may be treated as poorly in certain ways as a result. This may be due, in part, to the general social/political climate at the University of Washington as a whole.
The question is hard to answer without more information. If I was being asked whether UW was a good philosophy program if one wants to study social justice or the philosophy of science, I would recommend it. If they wanted to specialize in metaphysics or explore libertarian ideas, I would strongly suggest against UW. Part of my answer also stems from the state of the discipline itself and the academic job market. Regardless of program, I would caution against going to graduate school to study philosophy, if the end goal is to work as a professor in the field. There are simply not enough available jobs to support the number of new PhDs created each year and this feeds into a very competitive job market where many very talented, intelligent philosophers end up on the adjunct fringes, making little money, and living in a location they do not prefer - if they are able to get stable employment at all.

93) Johns Hopkins University

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Analytic, Cognitive Science, Epistemology, History and Philosophy of Science, Pragmatism

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.3 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
29 total, 15 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (65% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
I generally discourage everyone from pursuing a PhD in philosophy, unless they are independently wealthy and doing so for personal enrichment. The job market for philosophy PhDs is abysmal and abusive.
Right now, Hopkins is a small department with a good cooperative atmosphere. The character of the department may change due to its expansion, but on the other hand that will raise its profile and give students more options in deciding who to work with. The funding is very good, considering that Baltimore is not too expensive.
Support for graduate students in completing the program was almost entirely dependent on who was your advisor. No real department culture. Pretty low ranked program at the time, although we got a lot of money in the last five years or so, so that might change.

94) University of California, Irvine

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Analytic, Epistemology, Ethics, Historical, Law, Political

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.3 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
45 total, 10 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (26% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
Actually, I would only recommend it now because the faculty has substantially improved since I graduated.
Broad areas of interest, excellent mentors, excellent TA training, high rate of graduate placement. Two Ph.D. programs, one in Philosophy, one in Logic and Philosophy of Science - both are outstanding.
I would recommend the program to students working on ethics or epistemology, but probably not for other areas of specialization.

95) McGill University

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Aesthetics

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.2 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 3.2 teaching preparation (neutral); 3.8 research preparation (satisfied); 2.2 financial support (unsatisfied)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
34 total, 9 in permanent academic jobs, 8 in non-academic jobs (35% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
- Plural department - 4 good feminist philosophers - strong connections to the Political Science department via political theory - Interuniversity groups (GRIN, GRIPP, IHSP etc) that provide you with extra funding but also connect you with the other 3 universities in Montreal + other researchers from around the world
Regrettably, getting an academic job in philosophy depends heavily on the social status ("prestige") of the PhD programme. McGill has a good PhD programme in philosophy, but it is not prestigious enough. In a better world, this would make no difference, but in this world, it does.

96) DePaul University

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Continental, French, German, Historical, Phenomenology

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.2 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 2.8 teaching preparation (neutral); 2.7 research preparation (neutral); 2.2 financial support (unsatisfied)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
43 total, 23 in permanent academic jobs, 3 in non-academic jobs (0.575 placement rate)

97) University of Kansas

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Analytic, Ethics

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.2 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 4.6 teaching preparation (very satisfied); 3.2 research preparation (neutral); 3.8 financial support (satisfied)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
31 total, 16 in permanent academic jobs, 7 in non-academic jobs (67% placement rate)

98) University at Buffalo

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Aesthetics, Analytic, Bioethics/Medical Ethics, Experimental Philosophy, Language, Logic/Formal, Metaphysics

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.1 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 3.3 teaching preparation (neutral); 3.9 research preparation (satisfied); 2 financial support (unsatisfied); 4.6 program climate (very satisfied)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
50 total, 20 in permanent academic jobs, 7 in non-academic jobs (47% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
I have deep appreciation for the department culture and quality of instruction. However the program is not well-ranked in the Leiter Rankings, and I am not sure that it is advisable for any student to get into academic philosophy in the current job market if they fail to gain admission to a top tier program.
Not a lot of diversity. Not a lot of women. Not even a lot of diversity in philosophical area of study or views. Very old-fashioned views about women by many professors. Not a caring environment for students. Hostility internally. Professors not approachable. Overall mentality that the field is too difficult to get a job in and we should not continue on as students, that only the really special can make it (the professors) and that UB is a prestigious place to work but not to get a PHD.
Some faculty are quite prominent in their fields and they are supportive.
Success at UB very much depends upon your research interests. Some fare very well but others less so.
There are viable funding opportunities, the Department offers teaching experience, and an excellent learning environment offering a broad range of philosophical specialities.
UB Philosophy offers a good generalist program, and they have an excellent placement record. On top of this, the offer a unique opportunity to gain experience with formal and applied ontology. On a different note, the graduate students enjoy a great social network in Buffalo, where cost of living is relatively low.

99) Indiana University Bloomington

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Analytic, Early Modern, Epistemology, Ethics, Historical, History and Philosophy of Science, Language, Logic/Formal

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.1 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 3.3 teaching preparation (neutral); 3.1 research preparation (neutral); 3.4 financial support (neutral); 3.6 program climate (satisfied)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
41 total, 19 in permanent academic jobs, 4 in non-academic jobs (51% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
Great for making interdisciplinary connections between Philosophy Department, History and Philosophy of Science Program, Cognitive Science Program, and the School of Informatics
I found the culture of the department to be very friendly and supportive. While placement is difficult for every department in the current market, they are very committed to helping their graduates find positions.
Many of the graduate students at my degree granting institution were friendly, helpful, and excited in philosophy. In general, they were a joy to be around. Many of the faculty were nice and I and others learned much from them. But the department, on a whole, was not very concerned with professionalization. No time was spent in classes, or one on one meetings, on how to teach or do research. In fact, some faculty even gave advice against professionalization. (For instance, more than once I was told not to present at conferences or try to publish until after I had received my degree.) Additionally, the faculty had become increasingly factionalized so it could be difficult to put together a committee in certain core areas of philosophy. I do not know if these things have changed
The faculty and students at Indiana were amazing. Bloomington is a terrifically vibrant and welcoming community, and the university is electric with ideas and activity. The department has strong relationships with other academic programs and departments, which encourages and promotes collaborative and interdisciplinary work. The faculty are attentive and caring, supportive and friendly, and easy to work with. They are terrific teacher/scholars, and do a wonderful job preparing graduate students to carry on that tradition. Studying at IU was a transformative experience, both personally and philosophically, and I would strongly recommend the department to prospective students, especially students interested in philosophy of science (including cognitive science), history of analytic philosophy, and epistemology.
There is very little support from the faculty for students working outside their direct research areas. They identify students that do share these perspectives early, give them additional support and preferred teaching work, while mostly ignoring others who struggle to find their place in the field. These students are typically ignored and gossiped about as being "stupid". Working on any interdisciplinary projects outside of Cog Sci or History & Phil of science is a non-starter. Showing an interest in areas of non-western philosophy (outside the class room) is a sure-fire way to be politely shoved out of the program. There is routine infighting within the faculty that makes it difficult for students to form committees, get forms signed in a timely manner, etc. The training in the program seems to be right from the stone age--many faculty are technologically averse, and there are few opportunities to explore other areas like digital humanities. They still think logic is best done in front of a chalkboard. They are slow to act on grad student feedback about the program and so afraid of administrative scrutiny they try to keep any dispute in house, rather than use university resources. Things might be changing, but they have also been unable to hire for several searches due to infighting. Zero opportunities for applied work or research.

100) Southern Illinois University

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Historical, Phenomenology, Pluralist, Pragmatism

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
3.1 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend); 3 program climate (neutral)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
64 total, 19 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (33% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
I would recommend prospective students from three primary reasons. First, the program is designed to ensure a high level of professional development. Second, the program is home to the John Dewey Center. Lastly, the program is flexible in allowing interdisciplinary projects, especially PhD committees.
IT is a very racist school endorsing Critical Race THeory and distributes funding based on a persons ethnicity alone. THe school is garbage and the degree requires no work.
The majority of faculty who supervised PhD students have either retired or moved to other institutions.
The number of professors and resources have decreased since I attended. The hobbling of the Dewey Center is especially troubling. Further, the funding situation for graduate students is abysmal.
The program was first rate with regard to American pragmatism and Continental philosophy. They have lost some good faculty members in the last nine years though.
thorough program with diverse specialization

101) University of Guelph

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
2.8 overall rating (neither likely nor unlikely to recommend)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
34 total, 3 in permanent academic jobs, 13 in non-academic jobs (14% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
An amazing supervisor, who opened countless doors and showed incredible commitment to the project.
Atmosphere of abuse. Non ethical behaviour repeatedly excused. Students in fear of some profs because of an abuse of power. Issues are well documented but nothing has ever been addressed.
When counseling those who are thinking about a PhD in philosophy at Guelph, I think the bigger decision is whether to do a PhD in philosophy, not whether Guelph is the right place for it. My suggestion was always that they should do a PhD out of love for their project. The professional opportunities in academia are just too uncertain to warrant a PhD just to chase the tenure track; meanwhile, professional opportunities outside of academia are less dependent on your project, so you can get those benefits while still researching what you want.

102) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Average program ratings by graduates 2011 and later or current students:
2.4 overall rating (somewhat unlikely to recommend)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
35 total, 11 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (38% placement rate)

103) University of Tennessee

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Ethics, Political

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
28 total, 14 in permanent academic jobs, 7 in non-academic jobs (67% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
[Potentially identifying information] has retired from the institution. Another long-time faculty dept. member there [Potentially identifying information] has become very alienated with the dept. The dept. does have a good placement rate.
Pros - Good graduate student community - Lots of teaching opportunities; Cons - Short on faculty. Important areas of philosophy (e.g. history, logic) basically ignored as a result.
The most relevant aspect is that with a slew of retirements, the program has been fortunate to hire very good , young faculty. Furthermore the current focus is on value theory generally, and less on applied ethics when I was there.

104) University of Chicago (CHSS)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
12 total, 5 in permanent academic jobs, 3 in non-academic jobs (56% placement rate)

105) University of Reading

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
36 total, 16 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (53% placement rate)

106) University of Memphis

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Continental, Gender/Feminist, Phenomenology, Pluralist, Political, Race

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
37 total, 16 in permanent academic jobs, 5 in non-academic jobs (50% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
Education was top notch. Mentoring was superb. Academic job market cares mostly for pedigree/degree cachet. Memphis lacks cachet. Therefore, I do not recommend it despite it being quite good.
Excellent pluralist program of study. Diverse students and faculty; supportive community. Strong in race theory, feminism, continental, social-political, and ethics.
excellent professors; collegial environment; supportive for graduate students
Inclusive, commitment of resources to broad training and expert faculty, commitment to establishing a graduate student/faculty community and support system, interest in public philosophy as well as traditional and historical foundation in concept acquisition
Memphis historically has been a truly pluralist program, and the training in both has benefited me tremendously since I left. They place an extremely strong emphasis on teacher development and job preparation. My many mock interviews, for example, were much more difficult than my APA interviews. Finally, their approach to mentoring is a team-concept; groups of faculty mentor each student.
Truly pluralistic department with impressive faculty members well-known in their areas of specialization. Respectful, supportive graduate student community and faculty members.
Vibrantly pluralist program of study. Diverse students and faculty. Strong in race theory, feminist theory, continental, social-political, ethics. Supportive faculty.
Young, engaged faculty. Diversity of interests, training. Pluralist orientation.

107) University of Georgia

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
37 total, 13 in permanent academic jobs, 10 in non-academic jobs (48% placement rate)

108) University of Alberta

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
27 total, 10 in permanent academic jobs, 5 in non-academic jobs (45% placement rate)

109) University of Arkansas

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
17 total, 5 in permanent academic jobs, 4 in non-academic jobs (38% placement rate)

110) University of Oklahoma

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Aesthetics

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
29 total, 10 in permanent academic jobs, 2 in non-academic jobs (37% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
OU Philosophy offers strong mentorship and a positive environment (rather than a toxically competitive, which is all too common in the profession). In particular, an attentive placement director and frequent preparatory session such as mock interviews contribute to an overall good placement rate. I had a very positive experience there. My only reservations stem from the general state of the field, not from the program in particular.
Quality of classes, professors and placement program.
Supportive faculty, supportive staff, friendly climate among grad students. The faculty in my subfield (virtue ethics) is also very good research-wise.
This program is unranked and has had complaints filed against them for sexism. I was very uncomfortable in this department.

111) University of Toronto (IHST)

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
26 total, 7 in permanent academic jobs, 7 in non-academic jobs (37% placement rate)

112) University of Dallas

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
12 total, 3 in permanent academic jobs, 3 in non-academic jobs (33% placement rate)

113) University of Otago

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
18 total, 4 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (33% placement rate)

114) Indiana University Bloomington (HPS)

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Biology, History and Philosophy of Science

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
18 total, 6 in permanent academic jobs, 0 in non-academic jobs (33% placement rate)

Student Comments on 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
The HPS program at IU is very unique, and it allows students pursue larger questions about the nature and dynamics of science with lots of freedom. There are many good faculty, particularly in terms of their expertise and reputation, but not necessarily their advising or mentoring abilities. Prospective students should talk to current students to choose advisers. For students who are interested in philosophy of science but who are not very analytical or formal and who want to engage with the practice, history, and culture of science, this program might be a good fit. That said, students must be very self-motivated, as we have very few graduates as of late. I think this in partially due to poor advising and to the freedom allowed in the program.

115) Marquette University

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
45 total, 12 in permanent academic jobs, 8 in non-academic jobs (34% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
I would recommend Marquette to those who are interested in Ethics or the History of Philosophy.

116) Texas A & M University-College Station

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
20 total, 6 in permanent academic jobs, 1 in non-academic jobs (32% placement rate)

117) University of Nottingham

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
21 total, 6 in permanent academic jobs, 2 in non-academic jobs (32% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
Did not provide sufficient teaching experience to be competitive on the market. Seemed to care very little whether their students succeeded.
I undertook my Phd from [timeline removed]. Nottingham had a good research culture. The graduate students regularly met for seminars and were also welcome at the weekly staff seminar. I was given plenty of opportunities to work as a teaching assistant in a variety of topics. I was also able to lead my own module in my write-up year.

118) Temple University

Keywords chosen by past graduates/current students:
Aesthetics

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
38 total, 10 in permanent academic jobs, 4 in non-academic jobs (29% placement rate)

Student Comments on Program Overall:
Graduate advisors are committed to seeing their students succeed in their careers after leaving Temple with a PhD in philosophy. Both during and after the time students are in the grad program, the professors provide support and information to help them navigate the job search and hiring processes. The curriculum covers a broad range of courses to give students a well-rounded philosophical education.

119) University at Albany

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
21 total, 4 in permanent academic jobs, 4 in non-academic jobs (24% placement rate)

120) University of York

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
37 total, 7 in permanent academic jobs, 6 in non-academic jobs (23% placement rate)

121) Wayne State University

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
11 total, 2 in permanent academic jobs, 2 in non-academic jobs (22% placement rate)

122) Tilburg University

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
17 total, 3 in permanent academic jobs, 2 in non-academic jobs (20% placement rate)

123) Victoria University of Wellington

Job placement of graduates 2011 and later:
14 total, 1 in permanent academic jobs, 5 in non-academic jobs (11% placement rate)