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Are there schools with schemes for hiring couples, where both have a PhD in philosophy?


Not sure what you mean by "schemes" Fred. Spousal hiring does happen on occasion, but it is getting less common. When it happens it is almost never (not sure if there is even a single case) of it being advertised as such, but something that happens in negotiations. Usually it happens at research schools. Research schools will go out of there way to try and make a spousal hire because they really want to hire a particular scholar.

So even though research schools will try to make a spousal hire, it does not always work. I was awarded my PhD from a major research school, and we really wanted to hire one particular philosopher. However, this philosopher had a spouse who was a professor in another discipline, and we could not convince the higher ups to give the spouse a job and hence we did not get the hire.

Sometimes spousal hires will be for a lectureship or some sort of teaching only position which is much easier to get than an additional TT position. I have even heard of teachings schools occasionally giving a lectureship to a spouse. If they need a teacher it might not be that hard to do.

One thing for academics with academic partners to keep in mind is NEVER mention the possibility of a spousal hire until you have the offer in hand. Mentioning this at an earlier stage could easily result in not getting the offer at all.

There is one sense in which academic couples have things hard, but I think this is over played. As a single person moving around the country it is very hard to find a partner at all, so I tend to think people with academic partners have already won. I mean yes I "can" move, but it makes it much harder to date. I have often thought about deciding between being a professor or rather setting down roots so I can find a partner. That said, I do support spousal hires for a variety of reasons.

Grad Student

Hi Marcus,

Since it's that time of year, I was re-visiting your excellent Job Market Bootcamp. One question I have concerns the teaching portfolio. What should one do if, at the time of application, one is in the middle of the first teaching semester? Although I have a teaching philosophy and syllabi, I have no teaching evaluations to use for 'proof' of my teaching competence. Further, although I have several semesters of TA experience, there were no discussion sections for which evaluations could be provided. Any advice would be much appreciated.


Grad Student,

I would suggest giving your students a mid-term teaching evaluation to fill out based on your institution's official one, and including the non-official midterm evaluation in your teaching package with a note that clearly indicates what you are doing.

Taco Tuesday

Hi folks,

I'm on the market again this year and I'm trying to select my best writing sample. The worry is my most solid *recent* work is co-authored publications. Even though it's equal contribution in each case, I've only read recommendations *against* submitting co-authored work as writing sample. I personally think it's silly given parallel recommendations to co-author work, engage in collaborative projects, be a good colleague, etc., but the norms of the discipline still seem to favor single authorship as evidence of scholarship. This would sound preposterous to many social and natural scientists, who coauthor most of their work, but still. So my question is, is this frowned upon if the piece is good? Can it be appropriate to submit a single authored publications that's not very recent and a recent coauthored piece? Should I rather submit a recent piece of work that hasn't been published?

On a similar front, how narrow should the topic of one's sample be? If the area and the subject matter are quite specific, does this risk turning off committee members not familiar with the area?

Thanks for your insights!


Sadly, I find co-authored pieces are mainly looked down upon and I would not submit one for the writing sample. I have seen search committee members look at CVs and completely discount every co-authored publication as "not a real publication". I think this attitude is common.

I very much disagree with this anti-co-authored paper stance, but it is there. I really think submitting a co-authored piece for a writing sample would hurt, if not kill, your chances.

Taco Tuesday

Amanda, that's the info I found too, alas. Few comments on the recent discussion about coauthoring on Daily Nous bring up the job market issue, but it doesn't sound like a safe bet to submit coauthored work given the prevalent mindset. Again, this is silly, but so it is. Hopefully SCs at least still see coauthored publications in good venues on a CV as positive evidence of one's scholarly strengths.

Marcus Arvan

Amanda & Taco Tuesday: I have a similar impression, but I I'm going to post a thread on it anyway, as it seems to me an important issue. It discourages co-authoring and punishes those who do. It seems to me a cultural issue in much need of change.

Taco Tuesday

Thanks Marcus!


I know this is a bit late, but I wanted to pose a question that's been on my mind lately. The simplest version of the question is "How much does an active conference record matter for the job market?"

Here's a bit more context. I'm ABD, but, unlike most of my peers, I haven't presented at any conferences so far. There are a few reasons for this. First, I have a great deal of trouble condensing my ideas into the usual word limits. While I of course might be biased, I don't think the reason is that I'm just egregiously wordy. Rather, it simply seems to me that my ideas are rarely suited for brief presentations. For whatever reason, so far I've been drawn largely to sweeping, radical theses--the kind of thesis that requires a lot of setting up, illustrating connections, forestalling potential misreadings, responding to important-to-deal-with objections, etc., if one is to show its philosophical interest and plausibility. Unfortunately, it hasn't always seemed possible to carve out some small part of the research program(s) to present; in order to have something genuinely interesting and worth presenting, I'd have to bring in more than could fit into the usual 30-minute slot. Or at least, that has often been my perception of things.

Second, from my various presentations in classes and workshops so far, I've learned that I'm not very good at coming up with snappy responses to objections in the Q&A period. When someone raises an objection I haven't considered, I tend not to have much to say about it in the moment. And in those moments, usually all I can say is something like this: "That's very interesting, thank you. I can certainly see the challenge. I'm afraid I don't have a response at the moment; I'll have to think about it more." While this, of course, isn't ideal, it's always struck me as preferable to trying desperately to bullshit something. The feeling I've gotten, however, is that if you give the above response to more than one or two of the objections you get in a Q&A period, audiences are likely to suspect that you're stupid, or lazy, or copping out, etc. The prospect of having that be my first impression on a group of fellow philosophers at a conference isn't very appealing.

Lastly, I find online discussions to be far superior to conferences as a mode of philosophical exchange. Online discussions are more convenient in that they don't require the time and money that would be needed to travel to and from a conference. And in online discussions, there's more time to consider others' feedback and offer well-thought-out responses. This has made it more difficult to work up the motivation to apply to conferences; it's as if my brain is telling me, "Why bother going to a conference when you could just make a blog/forum/etc. post about your idea?"

In light of the above factors, I've never been all that interested in conferences. At the same time, though, I realize that the job market is approaching, and I've been wondering whether search committees might expect me to have some conferences under my belt. Thus, I wanted to ask how much you've found conferences to matter for the job market.

Some related questions:

First, is it okay not to have any conferences if one has a solid publication record?

Second, insofar as conferences do matter for the job market, roughly how many are needed for a "respectable" record? One? Two? Etc.

Lastly, insofar as conferences do matter for the job market, do you have any advice that might help someone like me to conference more (and/or be better at handling conferences)?


While I don't think conferences help very much, I do think not having any could hurt. It suggests a lack of engagement with the philosophical community, and an unwillingness to step outside your comfort zone. I suspect this is true at both teaching and research schools. For research schools the reason might be that researchers know a huge part of success is networking, and most networking is done at conferences. I am not sure about this but this is what I suspect. And we all remember Jared, who has one of the best publication records of any scholar I have ever seen ever, but no job still as far as I know. And he has never presented at a conference.

I would for sure though put the workshops on your CV if you have no conferences. That might be enough to not raise a red flag. I think 3-4 conferences would be enough that search committees wouldn't care. Also, I recommend going to conferences because the feedback you get can be invaluable. I can't understand not going to conferences myself - it is one of the main reasons I am in the profession!

UK reader

Not sure if this thread is still being checked, but here goes:

I have a question about AOSs for job searches. I've noticed that it's extremely common to see the following listed under the desired AOS in job adverts: 'Metaphysics and Epistemology'. Does this mean the department are looking for someone who does metaphysics and epistemology? Or are they as happy with someone who does metaphysics but not epistemology, or epistemology but not metaphysics?

For example, one often seems something like this: AOS: Ethics or Philosophy of Science or Metaphysics and Epistemology. This suggests that pure metaphysicians or epistemologists won't be considered. But if that's so, then this drastically reduces the number of jobs out there for people like me, who do only one of the two.

Should I be looking to quickly add metaphysics to my AOSs, since epistemology is currently my major AOS?


Thanks, Amanda, for the helpful feedback (particularly the thoughts concerning how search committees might interpret a lack of conferences).

Looking back, I see that my post wasn't very clearly worded, in that the "workshop" presentations I mentioned have simply been presentations for dissertation workshop (which all upper-level grad students in my department are required to take). Thus, I'm afraid I can't put them on my CV. (Or, was your thought that even this kind of workshop presentation should go on the CV, in the absence of anything else in the way of conference presentations? If so, that strikes me as perhaps more risky than simply not including a section on conferences--but I could be wrong.)


Hi gradstudent14,

Yeah I think I would not put workshops as part of a grad student thing at my own institution on my CV. You are kind of at the 11th hour hear, but I would go to phil events and submit a few abstracts to conferences. If any are accepted before you send in your applications (even if the conference is not until later) you can put it on your CV as forthcoming. Keep in mind there are a lot of conferences that are very easy to get an abstract accepted, and having something on your CV would be better than nothing. Good luck!

Re Uk reader - my take is it varies. I think a number of those schools would be fine with epistemology only, while others want both. I think if you mange to put metaphysics as at least an AOC you will likely be okay.


Ok, good to know. Thanks, Amanda!

Marcus Arvan

Can I suggest withholding discussion of people's queries until threads are posted on them? I think it might be better to focus a discussion on each query so that it's more likely that different readers weigh in with their point of view. I say this in part because I disagree with some of the suggestions made (as a past search committee member, I could really care less about conference presentations!). In any case, I'm still going to post threads on the queries posed!

Marcus Arvan

gradstudent14 & Amanda: I posted a new thread to discuss the conference presentation issue, adding some of my thoughts to your discussion. I think it's a good issue, and am curious to hear people weigh in further!

PhD Student

I’m not sure whether this thread is still working. Anyway, I will post what I want to say.

I’m currently a first-year PhD student in institution A who also holds an MA degree in Philosophy. During my application season this year, my final decision was between institution A and institution B. I was slightly inclined to choose A over B. However, B has a very flexible policy of credit transfer which was very attractive to me. I then asked the DGA at A whether I could request some credit transfer from my previous institution. The DGS told me that my request needs the approval of the whole department but he/she thought that it was highly likely that it would be fully approved. In addition, the credit transfer is not something unprecedented. Based on what he/she told me, I ended up choosing A.

I didn’t hear back from them on the issue for almost five months. Several days ago, the DGS told me that they cannot grant my request. If that information had been available to me earlier, I should have ended up choosing B over A. Given that I have already enrolled in A, what could I do? Any advice would be appreciated.


I recently completed my PhD in philosophy from a small department which, while having good faculty (as per my estimate, based on teaching and publications), is not a top-ranked school. Graduates are typically hired for full time instructor or lecturer positions.

Early in the dissertation process, I began a romantic relationship with another student in the department. After a death in the family which placed her in a bad situation emotionally and financially, we decided to move in together. The plan at the time was that we would finish our degrees, look for work, and move to wherever one of us got a decent job offer.

During this time, her children (from a previous marriage) began to do very well in school (they consistently test in the top of their classes). They are at a very good public school system, and my fiancé is, understandably, highly reluctant to move. In that time, I have also become a regular part of their lives, and I would be very reluctant to leave them, both for their sake and mine.

I can look for full-time positions in the area, but that would impose severe restrictions on where I can apply to. Another possibility is that I wait to apply for academic positions after our kids have graduated high school. For our youngest, this will be in 9 years. What I would like to know is whether and to what extent that gap in time will hurt my chances of being hired to an academic position, and, what, if anything, could be done to alleviate any negative effects of that gap?

Of course, I would try to publish during this period. I would also like to present at conferences, but my budget is extremely limited making this very difficult.

Thank you


Recent PhD
My sense is that if you spend the next 9 years - which is at least 9 years after you got your PhD (since you are a recent PhD) - working in contingent positions (adjuncting, for example), you will not be competitive for a tenure track position. Assume that there are between 200 and 300 new PhDs in philosophy every year in the USA. In that time, then, there will be 1800-2700 new competitors on the market. You can see the challenges you will face.

PhD Student

I think transferring from one program to another program is not something unusual nowadays. It would be great if there is a thread on this.

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