By Michel Antoine-Xhignesse
There's been quite a bit of talk on the internet recently about the role of institutional prestige in philosophy, especially in hiring decisions. The Cocoon has led part of that discussion, with Marcus tallying a whole whack of job market stats (see here and here). And every once in a while someone posting in a job market thread will advise job seekers to have a look at the faculty roster wherever they're applying to see whether people with pedigrees similar to their own have managed to snag jobs there. (Brian Leiter used to keep some information of this kind—see here).
A few weeks ago, I decided to start gathering the information for myself. I started looking at the faculty lists of departments ranked by the PGR as well as departments in Canada, and keeping track of which PhD-granting institutions were represented. It didn't take long before some interesting trends started to show up. Since quite a few people seem interested in this kind of information, I've decided to share my findings with you all. I'm not trying to push any particular conclusions here: you can draw your own. My data is here.
Please note that there are mistakes in this data. Originally, I was just doing this to satisfy my own curiosity, so I wasn't too bothered by it. I guess the mistakes matter a bit more now that I'm making it public, but given the trends involved, I don't think they're likely to be too significant.
The first sheet will show you all the data for the I53 (sorted so that the stronger placers come first), plus 20 other ranked/evaluated departments that I haven't made it to quite yet. The second sheet shows you the same info for Canadian programs. The third sheet tallies up the sums.
Finally, if you turn to the fourth sheet in the Excel document, you'll see that for the I53, I compared their Leiter and placement ranks. The first set of columns shows just that. The second set shows the same information, but sorted by the differential between their ranks, so that the departments that do best are at the top. The last set of columns is just the Gourmet ordering vs. this new ordering, to give you a sense of how things change. It's not a particularly informative way of looking at things, but I was curious, so I did it.
A note on methodology: I tried to count only T/TT faculty; no post-docs, emeriti, VAPs, adjuncts, etc. Doubtless, a few slipped through the cracks. I'm also much less familiar with job titles in the UK, so I'm sure I made more mistakes with respect to those departments. Finally, I have not updated departmental numbers to reflect this year's hires and retirements.
So far, I've counted the PGR International top-53 (I53) and 32 Canadian departments (every PhD- and MA-granting institution in Canada). That's a total of 82 departments, with 1700 faculty members. I do plan to eventually finish counting the rest of the departments ranked by the PGR, as well as all of those recommended by SPEP. That should be about 137 departments total, plus as many American MA programs as I can stomach. That, however, is work for the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, here's what I've got.
In the I53, five departments have 50 or more placements (out of 1212 total, across 129 departments). They are:
- Oxford - 116
- Princeton – 96
- Harvard – 84
- Pittsburgh - 57
- MIT – 55
These five departments account for nearly 34% of all I53 placements. 101 of these 129 departments have fewer than ten I53 placements. Collectively, those 101 departments account for almost 20% of I53 placements. The other 28 account for 77% of them (about 3% are unknown).
Interestingly, Canada's state is very similar to that of the I53. 122 departments are represented, with a total of 488 faculty. The top five placers (well, six: there's a tie for fifth) are a little different, though:
- Toronto - 63
- Oxford - 27
- Western Ontario - 27
- Pittsburgh – 21
- Princeton - 15
- Sorbonne - 15
Together, these 6 account for about 34% of placements. Only 7 departments (add Université de Montréal to the above) have 10 or more placements, and these 7 account for 37% of the placements. The other 115 departments make up 60% of placements, with about 3% unknown.
If you add together the I53 and Canada, then 35 out of 175 departments (20%) have 10 or more placements. The top ten are as follows:
- Oxford - 143
- Princeton - 111
- Harvard - 91
- Toronto - 89
- Pittsburgh - 78
- MIT - 62
- Berkeley - 52
- Cambridge - 47
- Stanford - 43
- UCLA – 43
So if we add Canada to the I53, Toronto and UCLA find their way onto the map of the top ten departments, and Rutgers and Yale drop out. Together, those ten tippy-top departments account for 45% of all placements. 67 (38%) out of all 175 departments represented have just one placement in those 82 PhD-granting programs; that means that 38% of departments have not quite 4% of all placements.
Two departments (2%) have 100 or more placements, and these two account for nearly 15% of all placements between them. In fact, that 2% has as many placements as the bottom 124 placers together (these placed between 1 and 6 people). Oxford (the top 1%) has as many placements as the bottom 101 departments combined.
The prospects look kind of grim for anyone not coming from the most elite departments where that very roughly seems to correspond to the I10 (NYU and USC aside; USC's showing is dismal compared to the other I10 programs). That does seem to lend some weight to the thought that the discipline's research agenda is heavily influenced by the tippy-top departments, even if only because they seem to staff the bulk of the other research-oriented departments. The one major exception (and surprise) that I can see is Western, which doesn't acquit itself at all badly in the I53 and does fantastically well in Canada.
That's enough blather from me. What do you all think?