New Findings on Diversity, Program Ratings, and Job Placement

This past summer APDA sent a survey to past graduates and current students in philosophy PhD programs. Some of the results have already been discussed in blog posts at Daily Nous, Philosopher's Cocoon, and Splintered Mind. You can also now read a draft of the paper describing the results, forthcoming at Metaphilosophy. A few of the highlights are provided below.


As in past surveys, we asked participants to provide demographic information, which this year included information on their gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic status, country of origin, native language, military or veteran status, disability status, and political orientation. Overall, we found underrepresentation for gender (women), race/ethnicity (Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, and Chicanx/Latinx/Hispanic), socioeconomic status (first-generation college students), military/veteran status, and political orientation (conservatives), while we found higher than expected representation for gender (non-binary), sexuality (LGB), and disability status.

Program Ratings

As in past surveys, we asked participants how likely they would be to recommend their PhD program to prospective students. We were surprised that the mean of these overall ratings was the same as the last time we ran the survey, which occurred prior to the pandemic. Having noted in the past that participants' explanations of high program ratings often mentioned program climate, we added a question this year about climate. Satisfaction with climate is a little lower than overall rating, and the top ten programs in terms of climate differed somewhat from the top ten programs in terms of overall recommendation (the three programs on both lists were ANU, SLU, and Uppsala).

Job Placement

We have been collecting data on placement for 10 years now: 38% of those who graduated in the past 10 years and 30% of those who graduated in the past 5 years are now in permanent academic jobs. The overall academic placement rate for philosophy appears to be better than that of other disciplines who collect this data (namely, psychology, history, and STEM fields*). Further, the proportion of those who get permanent jobs upon graduation appears to be stable over the last ten years. We created a comparison table to explore both permanent academic placement rate (excluding those in non-academic jobs) and program rating for 123 PhD programs, which you can find on the APDA data tab.

Non-Academic Careers

An area of possible improvement for philosophy is in connecting PhD graduates with meaningful non-academic careers (see, e.g., economics). Salary is a motivator for those who seek non-academic careers, and we have found it to be much higher than for those in academia 3+ years out of the PhD. Graduates don't see their programs as especially supportive or unsupportive of non-academic careers, but they do find both the skills and the material learned in their PhD programs to be relevant.

In a future paper we plan to dive deeper into the comments provided in this survey, using language analysis tools (for Experimental Philosophy and Corpus Methods, to be submitted August 2022).

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*This is not discussed in the paper, but a recent paper finds that "Only 25.2% of 2000-2013 STEM Ph.D. graduating cohorts are ever observed in a tenure-track position, compared to 42.8% of 1960-1980 cohorts." h/t Dan Hicks.