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Pluralist's Guide

I think this is slightly out-of-date, here's a ranking-ish list (you can select the Continental-specific list from here): http://www.pluralistsguide.org/program-recommendations/#awp::program-recommendations/.

One person's judgement

I would say by quite a margin, the power house is Penn state, mostly because they took professors from other places. I'd say Emory is still good and Vanderbilt has financial power. You definitely see a number of DePaul students get jobs at SLACs. I don't know much about Oregon or Villanova. There are some big figures in Chicago but I don't know if they still take students. If you like a certain style of continental philosophy I call "Pittsburgh style", you might want to check out Georgetown or of course Pittsburgh. Not really known for continental, but Columbia and Harvard have some interesting people. It's been a while since Stony Brook was big.


As someone working in this tradition, I can say that Penn State, DePaul, and Emory are the most 'prestigious' departments, in the sense that they are the best-represented ones at the key cycles of the field. Schools like Oregon, Villanova, Stony Brook, and Fordham are also up there as well, though perhaps not as well represented. Job placement, unfortunately, is a difficult topic, as the market for Continental Philosophy has been significantly smaller for a number of years now (though some say that this has started changing slightly).I agree that the pluralist guide above is a helpful list, albeit slightly out of date.

confused post-Kantian

I think tracking this distinction has become very confusing in recent years due to a surge of work in traditionally analytic departments on traditionally continental figures. I agree with the posters who note Penn State, Emory, Villanova, DePaul, and Oregon (I'd add New School and take away Northwestern, personally) as belonging to a group of departments who share a framework (by which I mean things like writing style, set of accepted topics and authors, methodological approach) for doing philosophy that is often referred to as 'continental' and largely aligns with the SPEP list. I think this is what the OP is asking about. Someone coming from a top Leiter-ranked 19th or 20th c 'continental' program (e.g. Columbia, Chicago, BU, Georgetown, etc. as per the 2021 PG) is more likely to share their framework with their analytic peers and, consequently, perhaps less likely to be in dialogue with people from the former set of departments. Obviously this isn't a hard and fast rule, since there is crossover at the subfield level in citations, conferences, journals etc. But, my impression is that SPEP continental depts tend to hire from other SPEP departments, and Leiter continental departments tend to hire from other Leiter departments, so the best way to figure it out might just be to look at where the SPEP department faculty went to grad school...


There are also several departments in the UK with strong Continental environments. I would probably judge Oxford and Warwick to be the most prestigious, but it probably depends on which kind of continental philosophy we're talking about.


In response to ”One person’s judgment,” I wouldn’t call Pittsburgh or Pittsburgh style philosophy continental. Most if not all of the Pitt faculty have PhDs from analytic departments and as far as I know that’s the kind of philosophy that’s being taught there.


I'm surprised to hear mentions of Villanova and Fordham without mention Boston College. I had heard Boston College ranked above them in terms of Continental, but perhaps that has changed in recent years (or perhaps my sources were biased for personal reasons).

conty bystander

There are no hard & fast rankings, but I would propose that placement basically tracks prestige, and in terms of placement, the ranking according to placementdata.com goes Oregon, Penn State, Emory, DePaul, Stony Brook. (To contextualise with analytic departments, Oregon is slightly below NYU and slightly above Harvard, and Stony Brook sits right above Conn & ASU.)

As someone around these departments, if I had to rank purely on the basis of impression, I would say: Penn State, Emory, DePaul, Oregon as a consensus top tier, with Stony Brook having more recently settled into a lower tier alongside Fordham, Villanova, Memphis, Duquesne, Loyola, Marquette, the New School. Oregon's stronger placement has much to do with their having recently pushed heavily into decolonial and indigenous philosophy. On the other hand, despite a good reputation, Emory's has struggled somewhat in recent years. Certainly these top four all have a constant or increasing number of lines, fairly big cohorts of PhD students, and look to place at least half of their PhDs in permanent academic positions. Northwestern, like UChicago, although having some good faculty is really more of a pluralist program than a continental one, and both have markedly weaker placement than the top four listed. Among pluralist programs, Vanderbilt and Columbia would also come to mind as being roughly comparable (and notable).

As a sidebar, I would actually speculate that the prestige-placement correlation is even tighter than in analytic departments because conty jobs are mostly gotten on the basis of personal networks--journals are still seen as somewhere to send off-cuts from book projects, while books make & break your reputation. And, as most people on the market aren't at the book-writing stage, this leaves the network of their recommenders taking pole position (without publication volume to differentiate them).

out of curiosity

"that the prestige-placement correlation is [...] tighter"

is there any subdiscipline in philosophy where this isn't true? this would be very useful information for prospective students.

and relatedly, is there similar information on non-western programs?

conty bystander

Well, the claim isn't that there isn't this correlation across the board (there absolutely is), just that the SPEP departments place on intra-SPEP prestige to at least the same extent (if not a greater one) as Leiterific departments. I suspect the correlation would be weakest in applied subfields where the hierarchies are comparatively poorly established, and grads still have a reasonable chance of winding up with a TT or good postdoc principally on the strength of a publication record. AI ethics, environmental ethics, feminism (although less so now), etc.

By non-Western programmes, do you mean programmes outside of the States, or programmes that specialise in non-Western philosophy? As for the former I am not very clued in, but as for the latter I would say that there are relatively few (if any) PhD programmes in philosophy specifically (as opposed to religious studies etc.) that specialise in non-Western philosophy in the Anglophone world. In the States, I think there are only two or three PhD granting programmes that have more than one faculty member specialising in Chinese philosophy, for instance (the non-Western area with which I'm most familiar personally). Hawaii and Indiana come to mind. Maybe there are some Canadian departments, and of course there are universities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, that offer coursework in English, but as far as I know that's about it. So usually it seems to be a matter of knowing with whom you want to work as an advisor, how good their work is, and going there to work with that person in particular...

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