Trends in Philosophy Hiring by Area of Specialization

Aero Data Lab, “a collaboration of scientists, ethicists, and policy-makers interested in improving the quality of the clinical research enterprise,” has published an analysis of trends in the academic philosophy job market over the past six years.

The analysis, by Spencer Hey (Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital), tracks changes in the number of academic positions advertised for different areas of specialization in philosophy, based on data from PhilJobs.

The following graph shows the number of tenure-track job opportunities each year (blue bubbles) and fixed-term opportunities (yellow bubbles), classed by area of specialization. (Since the bubbles are semi-transparent and at times overlap, parts may appear taupe/dark pink.)

Philosophy Job Market Analysis: Trends by Area of Specialization. By Aero Data Lab.

I encourage readers to visit the Aero Data Lab post on this, as their version of the graph is interactive, and Hey provides an explanation of how it was made.

As for the results, Hey remarks that the positions in ethics “consistently sees 50+ opportunities both for tenure track and fixed term positions” and that jobs related to political philosophy and philosophy of science “are also looking relatively strong, with 20-30 opportunities each year.” He writes: “for new graduate students in search of a project that is likely to increase their job market desirability, working on the ethical, social, or political implications of science would seem like a safe bet.”


In terms of trends over time, most of the AOS’s fluctuate between 5-15 jobs/year. There appears to be a slight downward trend for “ancient” and “mind,” and a recent uptick of interest in “race”. However, the lack of big changes over time is also interesting, and worth thinking about for new graduate students as they develop and shape their projects. For example, in the past 6 years, there have only ever been a handful of opportunities in math, medieval, and aesthetics—even for fixed term positions. So if your main area of interest is more niche, it may be prudent to think about building a connection to a higher demand AOS in order to increase your future academic job opportunities.

The full post is here.

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