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Christopher Stephens

Hi Michel,
Thanks for this. I have a question about your conclusion that "the prospects look grim for anyone not coming from most elite departments..." While I don't doubt that there is some truth in this, I'm a bit puzzled about the extent to which your data supports this conclusion.

If I understand your data correctly, you don't make any effort to control for the size of the graduate programs. So while it may be true that the probability of having gone to Prestigious University X is high given than one has a job, don't applicants really want to know the reverse probability: what is the chance that I'll get a job given that I've gone to University X?

So small programs that place a high percentage won't do well on this metric, and large programs that don't place a very high percentage can still do well by your measures. Is that right? or have I misunderstood the data here?


Hi Michael,

There's a lot here to think about. Thanks for the post. One small thing about USC worth noting is that their department has climbed the ranks very quickly over the past decade. (If I recall correctly, they were barely in the top 50 in the first Leiter report. (I might be mistaken about that.)) I think it's worth bearing that in mind when thinking about the correlation between appointment and ranking. Lots of highly ranked schools have had that status for longer.

Also, in terms of UK programs, Lecturer is somewhere in between Assistant and Associate Professor. (You'll have something akin to tenure once you pass an initial probationary period and passing this is nothing like getting through the tenure review process.) Senior Lecturer or Reader is the next stage up. Professor comes next and last.

Michel X.

Christopher: You're right, I haven't controlled at all for the number of graduates per program: I've focused purely on the brute number of graduates employed at various departments. It would be great information to have, if it was widely and easily available, but collecting and sorting it is more work than I'm up for myself. What we *can* still do is eyeball things, and I think eyeballing bears out the grimness I mention: the best placers are pretty uniformly tippy-top departments with significant halos. They are also (as you indicate) among the larger and more established departments.

Clayton: Thanks for the clarification. I'd figured it was more or less like that, but the UK numbers probably still warrant double-checking.

That's an interesting point about USC--to be honest, I'd forgotten about that entirely. I think it points up a not insignificant trend, too: the departments that do best by this measure are departments that have been around for a long time, have enjoyed tippy-top status for a very long time (perhaps explaining why USC, NYU, Rutgers and so on don't seem to do as well), and have produced a very large number of graduates.

One of the things to remember is that because I only counted T/TT faculty, a large number of those faculty members got their PhDs quite some time ago, when the discipline itself had a very different composition. So it's not at all surprising to see Oxbridge and the Ivies doing so well. That makes the success of some of the newer players (e.g. Western) that much more surprising. (Incidentally, I'm a Michel, not a Michael!)


Sorry Michel!

I try not to wear glasses when on the computer, but now I know that I'll need to rethink my font sizes.

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