As I understand it, many philosophy PhD programs these days report their placement records (i.e. placement of graduates into academic jobs) on their websites. For instance, my alma mater, Arizona, has a very thorough webpage reporting placements dating all the way from 1990 to the present. To the best of my recollection, when I started graduate school, almost no programs reported their placement rates anywhere. Deciding which school to attend, then, was very much of a guessing game. One had to sort of just go on the department's reputation, and go with one's own sense of their record.
Anyway, I think it is undeniably a good development that so many programs are reporting their placement records nowadays. Given that a PhD (for those who finish!) is anywhere from a 5-10+ year process, and the job-market after the PhD absolutely brutal, it is important for students thinking of grad school to know what job prospects they can reasonably expect to have in different programs. Yet, although placement-reporting is a good development, the following comment at the Smoker got me wondering whether we should expect more detailed information:
[A] major piece of data that is almost always absent from placement is number of years on the market before one's first position. Sometimes they just list a first position and incoming students presume this position was gotten ABD. Seems naive, I know, but they are naive, what do they know. They might not realize that position happened after (say) 3 years of adjuncting and 4 years of trying.
This seems to me a worthwhile point to think about. A program that merely reports the full-time academic jobs it has (ultimately) placed its students into by no means gives a full picture. First, it gives prospective students no clue about attrition-rates (i.e. how many students leave the program without finishing). Second, it gives no information about time to degree (I recall many programs I applied to giving rosy assurances that "most of our students finish in 5-6 years", which I know from experience is almost certainly false). Fortunately, the new APA Guide to Graduate Programs reports some of this stuff (at least, for the programs that gave them the data!). Finally, as the above commenter writes, time to tenure-track job seems important. Although some might suggest that any prospective grad-student should know about the terrible job market, and know it is extremely unlikely that they will receive a TT job direct from grad school, it nevertheless seems to me that program-specific information on this would be responsible practice. If, for instance, most of the students who come out of a given program spend 4-5 years moving from 1-year job to another, that seems to me a very important piece a data to know. After all, as some people have noted before, some people--for financial or family reasons--cannot afford to bounce around from place to place like that.
So, then, what might programs helpfully report? I would suggest that in addition to listing where they've placed their grads, as well as attrition rates, programs should post (A) average time from graduation to TT job for those placed, and (B) average numbers of students placed into different types of jobs (1-year VAPs, adjunct positions, multiple-year postdocs, etc.). This kind of detailed information could, again, be very helpful. Or so it seems to me. What do you all think?