Our books

Become a Fan

« Approaching soft job market years in a postdoc | Main | APA resources for non-academic careers »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


My sincere thanks for doing all this work for us, Marcus.


Thanks for putting this together, Marcus! It's always very useful to have some actual numbers instead of a vague sense of how the market is.


Obviously this is not something that can be done right now, but I'd be curious to see how many of these junior positions went to people getting their first TT job, and how many went to people who already had tenured or TT jobs. In other words, how many "new philosophers" really got added to the profession this year.

Marcus Arvan

Notone & postdoc: Thanks - it's my pleasure!


One more thing, and I apologize if this is addressed somewhere else--it probably is--but does the Cocoon have a ballpark/rough guess as to how many people we have applying for philosophy jobs in any given year? Obviously not everyone is applying for every job, some are applying for many and some very few, some may choose not to go on one year and will be back on the next, but just really roughly, anyone have an idea?

It seems that the pileup should get worse every year, given that there have to be way more PhDs being minted each year than there are available positions (people stop applying eventually, of course, but I doubt that's enough to stop the backlog from increasing a lot).


Thanks for this Marcus!

Quick question: did you exclude all open rank jobs from this tally? That would mean you've (slightly) undercounted the number of jobs on offer, given that some of those have presumably gone to junior people (my casual impression was actually that open-rank jobs *usually* go to junior people, but I could well be wrong about that).


Thanks, Marcus!

I was curious to see where (geographically) the jobs were, so just for fun, made a list. Note that it's entirely possible that my 118 jobs do not entirely overlap with those of Marcus, but it should be close.

[Disclaimer: This is entirely uncareful and unscientific!!!]

US: 62
Canada: 14
Continental Europe: 19
UK: 5
Asia: China/Hong Kong/Singapore: 13
Asia, other: 5.

Even if the numbers are not exact, my hypothesis was confirmed: there were *very few* jobs in the US, or even North America. Pack your bags, y'all!

Overseas Tenured

It would be interesting to see geographic trends. My impression is that the increasing prevalence of race/gender/non-Western is largely concentrated in North America, and core areas are more emphasized in the European and (increasingly significant) Asian market. Over the last few years there's been a boom in philosophy jobs in China.

Marcus Arvan

Hey R: Looking at my spreadsheet, I actually did include most of the open-rank jobs. The only ones that I excluded were ones that weren't really jobs in philosophy (e.g. a job in Art History) and one listing at Oklahoma State that lists 5 jobs in 'Endemic- and Pandemic-Related Research' (which I not only didn't know how to classify the AOS for, but which also again isn't in *philosophy*, but rather says they intend to make a cluster hire across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences).


FWIW, *a lot* of philosophers of art and aestheticians are actually qualified for that art history job. So, in case anyone was wondering, it wasn't such a stretch for it to get posted to philjobs.

In fact,I know quite a few who teach or have taught in art history! (The move in the other direction seems to be much rarer, however. Not surprisingly!)


There were definitely more than 5 permanent lecturer level posts in the UK. Of the top of my head there were one or two at St Andrews, two at Cambridge, two at Leeds, I think maybe three at Durham? One at LSE, and I seem to remember something at Warwick too?



Right you are! It looks like the remaining UK jobs, as well as a few of the EU jobs, only appear if one expands the search to include 'tenured' as well as 'tenure track', even though some of them are obviously junior posts. Limiting it to 'tenure track' yields the original 127 jobs that Marcus discussed.

If I get bored, I might make an update with the 'tenured' junior positions included.


By the way, the 18-19th Century History job was a failed search, with no offer extended after virtual campus visits.


Historygrrrl and Andy: many of the UK jobs don't get to PhilJobs (including the two Warwick searches), and are only on jobs.ac.uk. So, on a somewhat optimistic note, given the shift towards non-US jobs this year, this may skew some of this data, since it only considers PhilJobs.


A failed search during this job market seems particularly immoral. With this many philosophers seeking jobs, there is just no excuse. It’s just hoarding scarce resources so you can feel good about how fancy your own department is. Schoolyard bullying. Fewer philosophers will ever have a job because you refused to hire qualified candidates. Despicable.

missed point

I think you may be missing the point. I suspect that failed searches this year were due to the fact that the funding vanished. In the USA, colleges run on annual budgets that fluctuate significantly with changes in the economy. I doubt the departments wanted the searches to fail.


Missed point: I take “failed search” to refer to cases where the department did not hire despite having the funding. Regardless of terminology, I know of at least two cases of that this job cycle.


Failed searches are often more complex than they look from the outside. Try not to judge.


Ps what was the 18th-19th c job?


@UK: Indeed: jobs.ac.uk is certainly more comprehensive for UK jobs, and sometimes has interesting posts elsewhere. I also have found some jobs suitable for monolingual English-speaking philosophers on Euraxess. Many EU jobs of course require high (B2/C1) competency in the country's language; for Americans, German or French might be plausible and strategic to learn.

I still have the impression that the jobs are skewing away from the US, and the ability and willingness to leave the US can significantly increase one's chances of success in the job lottery.


I don’t know why the search failed for the 18th-19th century job. Might have been funding, might have been something else.


It is worth mentioning that the job ads don't always match the eventual hire. For example, a job ad may say they are looking for non-Western, but may end up hiring someone who teaches and researches nothing but Western stuff. Something in the vicinity of this happened in one of the searches this year. Perhaps a department has to say they are looking for something to convince the institution to allow a search but deep down they are not really interested in what they say in the ad. (Personally, I find such practice pretty offensive. But that's another issue.) For reasons like this, I think it's perhaps more useful to collect data on actual hire than what is on job ads.


historygrrrl's corrected geographical numbers.

Method: This search includes *only* jobs posted to philjobs, 1 Aug 2020 - 9 April 2021. Search parameters and what 'counted' were more generous. Junior TT or similar jobs plausible for philosophers are included, as are disjunctive 'open rank' type jobs. Fixed-term, senior-only, and full-time admin posts are excluded.

US: 63 [+2 additional teaching-track]
Canada: 17 [note: one is WFH]
UK: 15
Europe: 14 [corrects previous calculation error]
SE Asia: 13
Australia: 1 [the art job]
Other, all in Asia: 5.


I know of one failed TT search this job market season. The search failed because of a deadlock between two factions in the hiring department.


Hi Marcus, thanks for writing this up. Would you be willing to share your data?

Marcus Arvan

CuriousGrad: sure thing, here you go!: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jsGpY3XODNY_pKM17eXL2Ne4s1E4cxyLdq3nSrY3FLE/edit?usp=sharing

Sam Duncan

This is really useful work and I really hope graduate students will think about this when picking programs and dissertation topics. I did have a couple thoughts (treat this like the annoying referee who has a bunch of questions because s/he likes what you're doing and is interested):
1. How many of the "Ethics" jobs are applied ethics? I think it might make sense to break out applied ethics as its own category. My sense is that for most applied ethics jobs you probably need some very serious background in the applied field listed to be a serious contender. If you have a not too closely related topic in normative ethics then teaching a few professional ethics or bioethics classes or even publishing a paper in those fields probably won't be enough to make you a serious contender. It seems you probably either need a dissertation focused in these fields or that has one foot firmly planted in the relevant applied area. I could be wrong about this; I'm only going on personal experience and what some of my friends who do applied ethics say.
2. A substantial portion of community college jobs-- probably even a majority-- aren't advertised on Philjobs. If you included them it would almost certainly push the results more toward ethics, applied ethics, political phil, and, to a lesser extent, history. Every community college I know of that has philosophy faculty has ethics and/or applied ethics classes, a good many have history of philosophy classes, vanishingly few offer classes focused in metaphysics and epistemology. The only LEMM classes that are commonly found at CCs are logic classes. Granted CC jobs aren't usually advertised with a set AOS and AOC but they're usually clear about what classes they need taught. Someone with an AOS in ethics, applied ethics, or political would almost certainly beat out a similarly qualified LEMMing. I can't even seriously imagine that someone with a really specialized LEMM background being competitive for a CC job unless he or she had done a lot of teaching in other areas. Anyway, I know it's a huge task but it would make the data even better if there were a category for CC jobs.
3. You asked what the APA could do to be relevant and useful a few posts back and well one answer is "This!" It's awesome you do this, but this is really the sort of thing that the APA ought to be officially supporting like it does the APDA. For one thing, you ought to get more official professional recognition for this and (in a perfect world) some financial support for the time spent. Grants for course releases from the APA for things like this would be great. I also think that official support could fund more data collection to make this even more accurate. Take my earlier comment about CC jobs. I know that gathering that data would be a huge pain in the [neck] since those jobs scattered all over a bunch of sites (HigherEdJobs has most of them but they pop in weird places like Glassdoor too). That's the kind of thing one probably needs more people to do.
4. Finally, this just makes clear yet again the huge mismatch between the actual job market and prestige based rankings like the Philosophical Gourmet. Hiring in bioethics will do practically nothing to move a department's Leiter ranking and hiring in business ethics, non-western or philosophy of race will do even less. Hiring in a trendy LEMM topic will do a lot. But many more colleges need and want students with specializations in the former rather than the latter. And it's not just that potential grad students get really bad advice about where to go for their PhD programs by consulting these rankings. They also set up a system where grad programs are set up to mint graduates whose skills have little market demand. To be blunt this is outrageous. I'm on curriculum committee at my CC and we've gotten rid of entire degree programs due to lack of demand in the job market. And before any new degree or certificate program can be approved the department that proposes it must show that it fits with the job market (transfer focused programs are an exception). Current programs are also constantly monitored to make sure they fit with the job demands of the larger economy and our specific region. PhD programs could learn something from us. This is yet another reason I'd like to see the APA's support behind something like this. PhD programs need some professional and public pressure to consider the actual job market in shaping their programs and advising their students. They would anyway but this is especially so due to the fact that prestige based rankings push them to make such decisions in ways that are badly out of sync with that market.


Thanks for doing this work! Could you please clarify what counts as "or similar". For instance, from the data (and thanks for making that available), you've counted Northeastern, which I assume was this job: https://philjobs.org/job/show/16522 . Given that it's a permanent job, it seems like it should indeed be included, but then why not the similar jobs at Boston College (https://philjobs.org/job/show/16406) and UAB (https://philjobs.org/job/show/16646). Thanks again for all of this!

Marcus Arvan

Hi grateful: Thanks, I'm always happy to do this work. To answer your question, while I did a PhilJobs search for 'tenure track (or similar)', I only included tenure-track jobs from that search in the data set, and none of the jobs you linked to are tenure track.

The UAB job ad you list reads, "The Department of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) seeks to hire a non-tenure earning (NTE) assistant professor".

The Boston College job you list reads, 'full-time, non tenure-track'.

The Northeastern job that I included in the data isn't the one you list (which is listed as a non-tenurable job). The one I listed in the data is this one: https://philjobs.org/job/show/16166


Got it, thanks! For some reason I wasn't getting the TT Northeastern job when searching.

Again, appreciate your efforts.

Ethics Prof with Finance MBA

This blog is wonderful. I'm wondering whether there is a blog-entry with data on the non-TT jobs in JobsPhil for the year just past? I can't find it on the site.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Subscribe to the Cocoon

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory


Subscribe to the Cocoon