In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are University of Florida and University of Melbourne. 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.
- Florida has a very small PhD program and Melbourne doesn't have a placement or alumni page, limiting what can be said about these programs
- Melbourne's academic placement record seems to be below average, but students rated the program as about average
- Both programs seem to have a focus on Value Theory, but more graduates in Science, Logic, and Math from Melbourne found permanent academic employment
Overall placement, 2012-present
Florida appears to have had 5 graduates in this period, whereas Melbourne appears to have had 31. Of Florida's 5 graduates, all went into academic employment, and they placed 3 of these into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (60%), with none of these in a program that offers a PhD in philosophy. Melbourne placed 5 of 21 into permanent academic positions (24%), with none in a philosophy program with a PhD. Both of Florida's other two graduates are in temporary academic positions. Of Melbourne's other graduates, 9 have postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 2 have temporary academic placements, 10 are in nonacademic positions, and 5 have no or unknown placement. The average current salary of Melbourne graduates is $78,727 and 86% of graduates preferred an academic job. (There were too few participants from Florida to provide this information.)
Note that removing nonacademic positions from the total number of graduates in reporting permanent academic placement is a new standard for this project. According to the old standard, 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 according to the new standard are 43% and 14%, respectively, with an overall average current salary of $68,542 and 90% who prefer an academic job.
Areas of Specialization, by Category
Including all past and current students in the APDA database, 33% of Florida students are in LEMM, 39% are in Value Theory, 22% are in History and Traditions, and 6% Science, Logic and Math. 8% of Melbourne students are in LEMM, 42% are in Value Theory, 19% are in History and Traditions, and 32% are in Science, Logic and Math. For Melbourne, the majority of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in Science, Logic, or Math (60%), whereas placements were evenly split across the first three categories for Florida.
Note that the current database values for all past graduates and current students are 28% in LEMM, 34% in Value Theory, 24% in History and Traditions, and 14% in Science, Logic, and Math.
Including all past graduates and current students, 26% of those from Florida are women, as are 39% of Melbourne students.
29% is the overall proportion reported by APDA in 2017. The current database percentage is 31% for all past graduates and current students.
Including all past graduates and current students, 17% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from Florida and 17% from Melbourne 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 20%, but this is likely inflated relative to the true population due to some of our data gathering efforts.
Too few participants from either program provided information about SES status 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.
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 Melbourne students selected "somewhat likely," on average (4.0, n=7). (Too few participants from either program provided ratings on research, teaching, and financial support to report.)
"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.
Melbourne students provided public comments on the program overall:
I think that although my Australian training was excellent, American PhD programs train students for the various hyper-professionalised aspects of the discipline. It is almost impossible to get a job nowadays coming from a background that prizes research above all else. Succeeding in academia has little to do with research, and my Australian PhD program did not prepare me for this. I prefer the Australian system, but the reality is that it is not consistent with the current trend in academia.
My doctoral studies in philosophy allow me to work on stimulating questions in practical philosophy, especially concerning the relation between human beings and the planet, with a particular focus on climate change. At the same time, I also work on issues of climate policy with leading climate scientists, in this way hoping to bring philosophical reflection into closer discourse with important policy issues. My doctoral studies encouraged me to pursue interdisciplinary collaboration, and to consider the practical importance of philosophical argument and analysis.
on preparation for research:
Australian PhDs are heavily research oriented. I also went through a PhD program where we were taught that research needs to be novel, deep and bold. I am glad to have been educated in this research culture. My impression is that a lot of American programs teach their students to do research in such a way as to churn out as many banalities as they can manage.
and on financial support:
The scholarships offered to Australian graduate students are generous and do not create a situation where students needs to teach like maniacs just to keep the electricity on at home.
Next week I hope to look at University of Guelph and University of Sheffield. Feedback is welcome, at email@example.com.