Graduate School Philosophy Placement Records In the US/CA: Prestige Placement Rankings

In this report, we rank PhD programs in philosophy according to how well they place schools based on the prestige of their (1) Terminal MA Philosophy program placements, (2) PhD philosophy program placements, (3) US News National University placements, and (4) US News Liberal Arts placements.

pr_prestige

In this report, we rank PhD programs in philosophy according to how well they place schools based on the prestige of their (1) Terminal MA Philosophy program placements, (2) PhD philosophy program placements, (3) US News National University placements, and (4) US News Liberal Arts placements.

 

Other Reports

pr_phdThe Placement Report for Ph.D. Programs
pr_terminalmaThe Placement Report for Terminal MA Programs
pr_contentialThe Placement Report for Continental Philosophy

The Motivation: Why do this Study?

In my initial work on philosophy placement records, I received a lot of feedback and criticism regarding my ranking of programs by job placement type, that is, by the ratio of students that receive a tenure-track/permanent position upon graduation to all graduating students, and the ratio of students that are currently in a tenure-track/permanent/Tenured position to all graduating students.  As my main goal in that article was to focus on the question, "Will I get a Job?", it seemed appropriate to me to focus simply on that question.

While I do think this sort of ranking is important in its own right (since some students will only/mostly care about getting a stable position, no matter where it is), I do agree that this is not the whole story when it comes to placement.  As such, I have worked on a way to measure the quality of placement (i.e., the rank of the school) as opposed to merely the kind of placement (i.e., tenure-track/permanent, post-doc/researcher, lecturer/temporary).  I do want to present as much of the full picture as I can regarding placement, so these efforts are an attempt to round out and complete the analysis.

The Method : How the Report was Created

I already had all of the placement data that I had collected for the previous article.  However, I needed a way to measure the quality of placement, both initially and currently, for each PhD program.  I found four sources to use for doing this.  The first is the terminal MA programs in philosophy rankings from the Leiter Report.  I found the average rank for each MA program from 2002 onwards, and then matched that rank up with each PhD placement to that school.  Then I found the average overall MA placement rank for each PhD program, weighted the rank by the percentage of students from the PhD program that went there, and then ranked PhD programs in order based on that weighted ranking.  Second, I used the PhD rankings from the Leiter Report to find the overall PhD placement rank using the same method as I did for the MA rankings.  Thus, these two sources can be used to measure the best overall placement into philosophy departments.

Third, I used the 2013 US News National University rankings to find the overall National University placement rank for each PhD program, using the same methods as before.  Fourth,  I used the 2013 US News Liberal Arts College rankings to find the overall Liberal Arts College placement rank for each PhD program, using the same methods as before. Thus, these two sources can be used to measure the best overall placement into universities and colleges in the US from the standpoint of which universities and colleges are currently ranked the best overall.

Each of these four methods provides a different insight into the sort of placement one can expect from a school, and as such, each can be used or not depending on a prospective student's interest.  If he or she wants to work at the best liberal arts college possible but wants to avoid a large university and doesn't care as much about the quality of the philosophy department, then the liberal arts rankings will be the most useful.  If a student wants to be in a great philosophy department, but does not care about the quality of the school overall, then the first two rankings will be most helpful.

(Note: there are close to 1,000 distinct schools mentioned in the placement data, and over 500 schools mentioned in the US News rankings, and sometimes, the names aren't exactly the same, even when it is the same school.  Please be patient with me while I working on normalizing the names so that they are consistent throughout, and as such, properly represented in the dataset. Further, the definition of quality I’m using in this study is a factor of the rankings determined by the sources I note above. Many consider quality to be somewhat of a subjective measure and I’m making no claims about a particular school’s quality all things considered. This is a study based on qualitative data from sources that attempt to assign a quality measure but I acknowledge that an individual’s assessment of a quality program may differ dramatically from the assessment given in those sources.)

The Meat: Which PhD Programs Have the Best Prestige Placement Rankings?

1. Prestige Rankings by Placement into Best MA Philosophy Program Departments

The following lists the rank of each PhD program according to how well it initially placed graduates into the best departments featuring a terminal MA in philosophy.  The columns mean the following things (note: these will have the same meanings for each list).

PhDSchool - The PhD program that is doing the placement

AvgOverallRank (AOR)- The average overall rank of all of the MA schools (PhD schools / National Universities / Liberal Arts colleges) that a graduate was placed at.

RatioOfRankedPlacements (RRP)- The ratio of students placed into these MA schools (PhD schools / National Universities / Liberal Arts colleges) compared with the total number of graduates from that school.

WeightedRank (WR)- The AvgOverallRank / RatioOfRankedPlacements.

PlacementRankScore (PRS) - The ranking of the school based on the WeightedRank (from low to high)

Why is the weighted rank necessary? Because not all schools are ranked, I needed a way to compensate for the ratio of students each school sent to a highly ranked program.  It wouldn't be fair if a school that only sent 1 student to a number 1 program ranked higher than a school that sent 100 students to a number 1 program and 1 student to a number 2 program.  Clearly, the ratio of students going to a ranked school should make a difference in how each PhD program is ranked.

Using the following list as an example, we can see that MIT and Stanford have the same AvgOverallRank. However, MIT has sent more of its students to these #1 schools then Stanford has.  So shouldn't it be ranked higher? I judge that is should. Similarly, the University of California, Berkeley has an AvgOverallRank of 2 while the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has an AvgOverallRank  of 7.4.  However, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has sent nearly 10% of its students to highly ranked MA programs while UC, Berkeley has sent only 2% of its graduates.  Imagine that we added 10 more ranked MA programs, and UC, Berkeley had more placements to these schools than Michigan did.  Then its AvgOverallRank would be much lower.  However, since these programs are not currently being counted, it looks as though UC, Berkeley has a better MA placement than Michigan does, when in fact, the reverse may be true. Thus, the weighted rank compensates for the ratio of PhD students being sent from a department and for the lack of rankings for all schools.  A PhD program that places most of its students in moderately high programs should rank more highly than a school with very few students that end up in very highly ranked programs, since the former normally has a better placement record than the latter.  As such, the weighted rank better represents the normal placement of a school.

Now on to the rankings.  In order, the PhD programs that have the best INITIAL placement of students who place into great terminal MA philosophy departments are (1) MIT, (2) Stanford, and (3) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs that have initially placed students into great terminal MA philosophy departments:

In order, the PhD programs that have the best CURRENT placement of students who place into great terminal MA philosophy departments are (1) Stanford, (2) MIT, and (3) New York University.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs whose graduates are currently in great terminal MA philosophy departments:

2. Prestige Rankings by Placement into Best PhD Philosophy Program Departments

In order, the PhD programs that have the best INITIAL placement of students who place into great terminal PhD philosophy departments are (1) New York University, (2) MIT, and (3) Princeton University.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs that have initially placed students into great PhD philosophy departments:

In order, the PhD programs that have the best CURRENT placement of students who place into great PhD philosophy departments are(1) New York University, (2) MIT, and (3) Princeton University.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs whose graduates are currently in great PhD philosophy departments:

3.  Prestige Rankings by Placement into Best National Universities

In order, the PhD programs that have the best INITIAL placement of students who place into great National Universities are (1) Carnegie Mellon University, (2) MIT, and (3) University of California, Berkeley.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs that have initially placed students into great National Universities departments:

In order, the PhD programs that have the best CURRENT placement of students who place into great National Universities are (1) Carnegie Mellon University, (2) MIT, and (3) New York University.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs whose graduates are currently in great National Universities departments:

4.  Prestige Rankings by Placement into Best Liberal Arts Colleges

In order, the PhD programs that have the best INITIAL placement of students who place into great Liberal Arts Colleges are (1) New York University, (2) University of Pennsylvania, and (3) University of California, Riverside.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs that have initially placed students into great Liberal Arts Colleges:

In order, the PhD programs that have the best CURRENT placement of students who place into great Liberal Arts Colleges are(1) Washington University, St. Louis, (2) Harvard University, and (3) University of Chicago.   Here is the full list of all PhD programs whose graduates are currently in great Liberal Arts Colleges (Note: Washington University's ranking is based on one student placing very highly.  After the school names have been normalized, I expect this rank to drop significantly.  However, to be consistent, I am leaving it as is for now):

Moving Forward: What Next?

There are lots of rankings here, and I suspect that each ranking will be more appropriate for some students compared with others.  Think about what matters most to you.  At what sort of school do you want to end up teaching initially?  At what sort of school do you want to end up teaching eventually?  A one-size-fits-all ranking system does not make sense for a diverse group of students with different goals and desires, so use these rankings along with other rankings (e.g., faculty rankings, job type placements) and other considerations (e.g., location, funding) you have to make your own ranking of schools, a ranking that suits you best.

Feel free to send me comments and suggestions on this report.

Thanks,

Andy Carson
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