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12/08/2021

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German in US grad school

I can really only speak to Germany here, but I'll say a few things about the questions OP asked with respect to Germany:

1. I think, generally speaking, an American PhD is an advantage -- many Germans value "international experience". That's on top of the fact that some American PhDs are from really prestigious institutions that employ famous philosophers, which is another bonus. That said, not speaking German would be a drawback: I have seen a few hires of English-speaking philosophers in Germany, but most people will see it as a problem if you can't teach in German. A second problem I've heard raised with American PhDs is a comparative lack of teaching experience: German PhDs will often have done a lot of teaching of regular courses as primary instructor, and having been a teaching assistant or having taught "compact" classes is not seen as equivalent to that. On the plus side, you probably know more innovative approaches to teaching than some Germans.

2. The other thing to note about the German job market is that there is no such thing as tenure track (or at least it is extremely rare). You can apply for a temporary position as lecturer between 1 and 6 years after your PhD, and if you want to stay in Germany you can write a "Habilitation" which would qualify to apply for tenured position at other universities (hiring professors from your own department is considered bad practice). Also, beware of temporary positions that have a very high teaching load. A normal position as lecturer will require you to teach two courses per semester, but there are some requiring 5 or 6. These are often dead ends to someone's career. You will also find a few research-oriented postdoc positions -- there, not speaking English would be less of a problem, I think.

Alex Grzankowski

It would be nice to see some real numbers, but just anecdotally, a US PhD (and others of the same shape too) strikes me as an advantage in the UK. This is for three reasons.

1. Students coming from the US tend to have teaching experience. Not many UK PhDs get this while studying.
2. Because PhD's take roughly 5-7 years in the US, CVs and overall job portfolios often look more polished and have more publications than many fresh UK PhDs.
3. Various programs in the UK are deemed very prestigious but the top US programs are certainly deemed competitors or even better and just about every job in the UK is billed in part as a research job.

I often suggest to strong MA students in my program that they look at programs in North America.

Daniel Weltman

Speaking just for India, where I'm at, I think in general a US PhD is seen as an advantage or at least it is not looked down at when the private universities are hiring. Nobody really expects you to know what is happening in India philosophically - there are more than a billion people here. (I'm not sure many American institutions expect you to know what's happening in America philosophically. As long as you know your subfield that seems to me to be enough. If someone at your job interview for a metaphysics job suddenly asked you what you thought of Habermas or moral error theory, I would be very surprised!) My impression of the job market in India is that you will be competitive for private university jobs, of which there are not a ton right now but there seem to be more every year.

Not all of these universities post on PhilJobs so it can be worth asking around, as with China.

Peter Finocchiaro

I'll say a little bit about China, especially since it is a change from what I said in my Going Global post.

Qiu Lin is absolutely right that the Chinese job "market" doesn't operate like the American job market currently does. We haven't advertised in any explicit capacity this past year, but we've still had applications and conducted interviews.

That being said, there are at least two complications.

First complication: this backchannel hiring process predominantly involves Chinese nationals. Insofar as non-nationals do something similar, it's senior figures, not recent PhDs. But I only partially understand the reasons for this, and it might not generalize to other universities in China.

Second complication: China is still effectively closed to any non-Chinese national looking for a job. Officially, this is due to COVID-related concerns. To illustrate with some specific details: our department has made multiple post-doc hires over the past two years and zero of those hires have been able to arrive. We've decided not to conduct a post-doc search this year -- the first time we haven't done so in 6 years -- because we still cannot guarantee that whomever we hire will be able to arrive.

Matias

In many European countries there is no academic job market like in the States. You need to apply for funding. That pays your salary. There might be some fixed term jobs. In that case the university pays you. Junior faculty positions are, to the best of my knowledge, extremely rare. I take this excludes UK.

gone global

I applied to jobs in continental Europe and the Middle East (and eventually got one), and also enjoy my Eastern European colleagues =) Here are my impressions:

1. A US PhD is certainly not viewed unfavorably. As others have noted, it can be an advantage when applying to places that value being international and/or having an international reputation.

2. Many of the institutions in Western Europe value, above all else, the ability of faculty to bring in funding. When applying to a junior faculty post, you will need to know about grants through the ERC as well as in the university's country AND have an airtight proposal for a long-term project. They will see right through any BS.

3. If you cannot prove competence in a language other than English, look for English-only universities or universities that will give you a certain amount of time, like 3-5 years, to reach professional competence in their language.

4. For many of the Eastern and Southern European universities, you need to have B2 (if not C1) competence in their language in order to work there; if you are foreign, you will likely need to take a test. From the day you arrive, you will need to teach, go to meetings, and do professional presentations in their language. Though some philosophers also publish in English, many primarily publish in the local language.

5. One interesting thing about the European Continent is that - unsurprisingly - a number of philosophers work on continental philosophy. Even if you know the language, if you come from an Anglo-American training, some of the departments might be a bad fit.

6. I think it's enough to specialize in your own area, and not necessarily know everything that is happening in the local philosophy scene. That said, if there are people working on similar things in the country or nearby countries, it is easier to make a good case that you really want to be there and will not pack up as soon as a suitable job in the US opens up.

American in German postdoc

I'm not sure I agree with 'German in US grad school' regarding point 1. In my experience, it is extremely *uncommon* for PhD students in Germany in Philosophy to have any real teaching experience -- standardly they are doing research only. In fact, I'd say that US PhD grads are going to be more competitive on that side, unless they come from one of the few, very sparkly, programs that require you to only TA (but even then, there's a good chance they have more *training* in pedagogy than their German counterparts).

And anyway it would surprise me if that hampered them from getting research-focused postdocs in Germany -- generally, it doesn't seem like that part of German academia puts such a premium on teaching experience.

Otherwise everything they said sounds about right to me.

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