Philosophy PhD Programs: Arizona State University and University of Alberta

In this blog post I provide some detailed, up-to-date information about two philosophy PhD programs. This week's picks are Arizona State University and University of Alberta. 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.

tl;dr

  • Arizona State is a small program, and Alberta is small to mid-sized, so I am missing information in some categories
  • The academic placement rates of both programs are close to average, with Arizona State a bit above average
  • The plurality of Alberta students and the majority of Arizona State students are in Value Theory
  • Both programs have above average racial/ethnic diversity
  • Arizona State students provided somewhat conflicting feedback on funding and training for teaching

Overall placement, 2012-present
Alberta appears to have had 21 graduates in this period, whereas Arizona State has had 12. Alberta placed 6 of these graduates into tenure-track or other permanent academic positions (29%), with 1 of these in a program that offers a PhD in philosophy (5%). Arizona State placed 5 into permanent academic positions (42%), with 1 in a program with a PhD (8%). Of Alberta's other graduates, 3 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 6 have other temporary academic placements, 4 are in nonacademic positions, and 2 have no or unknown placement. Of Arizona State's other philosophy graduates, 2 are in postdoctoral or fellowship positions, 3 have other temporary academic placements, and 2 are in nonacademic positions. Too few Alberta students provided salary information or information on academic/nonacademic preference to report. Similarly, too few Arizona State students provided salary information, but 91% preferred an academic job.

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, 25% of Alberta students are in LEMM, 39% are in Value Theory, 18% are in History and Traditions, and 18% Science, Logic and Math. 21% of Arizona State students are in LEMM, 63% are in Value Theory, 5% are in History and Traditions, and 11% are in Science, Logic and Math. For Alberta, the plurality of graduates 2012 onward placed into permanent academic positions were in Value Theory (50%), whereas for Arizona State these were split between LEMM and Value Theory (40% each).

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.

Diversity
Including all past graduates and current students, 24% of those from Alberta are women (33% of current students, 23% of past graduates), whereas 34% of Arizona State students are women (39% of current students, 31% of past graduates).

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, 25% of those who answered questions about race and ethnicity from Alberta identified as something other than White, non-Hispanic. This number is 43% for Arizona State.

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

Too few Alberta students provided SES information to report. 13% of Arizona State students were first generation, spanning the lower 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.

Alberta students did not provide public comments on how philosophy could be more inclusive, but Arizona State students provided two:

Learn more about how other cultures have tried to handle philosophical ideas.
Overall I think philosophers and this department could do a better job of making philosophy more approachable to the general public and other academic departments.
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 Arizona State students selected "somewhat likely," on average (4.0, n=12). (Too few Alberta students provided this information to report.) It did not have a moderate or higher correlation between graduation year and program rating. 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," Arizona State students selected "neutral" (3.0, n=10). (Too few Alberta students answered this and the following questions to report.)

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the advice and preparation this program provides to its graduate students for academic research," Arizona State students selected "satisfied" (3.7, n=10).

In response to: "Rate your satisfaction with the financial support this program provides for its graduate students," Arizona State students selected "satisfied" (3.7, n=10).

Public Comments
Alberta students left one public comment about their program overall:
The environment of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta is comfortable, open-minded, and definitively inclusive.

on training for teaching:

The Ph.D. program in Philosophy at the University of Alberta offers multiple opportunities for developing and achieving a solid teaching experience. Each semester various Teaching Assistantships are available within the three basic undergraduate classes: PHIL 101 - Introduction of Philosophy: Values & Society; PHIL 102 - Introduction of Philosophy: Knowledge & Reality; PHIL 120 - Symbolic Logic I. Moreover, the program usually offers Principal Instructor contracts to senior graduate students (third, fourth, and fifth year).

and on financial support:

The funding system of the Ph.D. program in Philosophy at the University of Alberta is reliable and flexible. Funding is offered in both forms of scholarships (mostly reserved to domestic Canadian students) and Teaching or Research Assistantships (available for both domestic and international students). This offer permits to fund firmly five full-time academic years.



Arizona State students provided public comments on the program overall:

Faculty is supportive, funding is adequate.
on training for teaching:
We had ZERO training in teaching undergraduates. TA work was just grading. Whenever we were assigned a course of our own, the most help we received was how to order books.
Teaching assistantships and associateships available, along with a for-credit course on university teaching.
The professors at my university often offer opportunities to run undergraduate courses that we TA for. This as well as some workshops in syllabus building and pedagogy are very helpful in preparing students for undergraduate teaching. That being said, university limitations make it difficult to spend more than a few days running a course. This limits the amount of time graduate students have actually lecturing and getting used to running an independent class. The ability to run sections, for example, are essential, I think, in preparing students for running their own courses. I would be much happier with graduate student preparation for undergraduate teaching if these kinds of opportunity were available.
on preparation for research:
There was some help in publishing research but it was minimal and not integrated with any of our graduate work or stressed by any faculty.
Professors and other students are responsive to requests for help, but the nature of system is such that it’s questionable whether people are genuinely motivated and interested in others as much as might be ideal.
My program offers a wide variety of workshops and sessions focused on writing papers for publication, research, and other related topics. This is helpful in preparing me for what to expect and how to be prepared for with academic research. I think there is always room for improvement regarding student preparation, but that I have a solid foundation.

and on financial support:

It seems the norm to keep humanities graduate students at poverty level. We were on par with other programs.
The funding is generous. TAs are well-compensated, especially in light of how comparatively little they are expected to contribute.

Next week I hope to look at University of Toronto and Duke University. Feedback is welcome, at apda@ucmerced.edu.

Link to this post at: http://placementdata.com:8182/untitled/