Recent Changes to Graduate Programs Prospective Students Should Know

Prospective philosophy graduate students are currently checking out information at department pages, discussion forums, and sites that collect data and opinions, deciding where to apply or what to think of the places to which they’ve already applied. Yet is that online information up to date?

[Salvador Dalí, “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory”]

For various reasons, there can be a significant lag between changes to departments and the online availability of information about such changes, and sometimes, those changes might be relevant to someone’s decision about where to apply. So I thought I’d open up a space for people to share news of such changes, be they good or bad or unclear. What kind of changes? Here are some examples:

  • A faculty member won a grant and there will be opportunities for incoming graduate students to work as research assistants on their project
  • The university/college/department is expecting budget cuts/extra money that will affect the funding it can offer graduate students in the future or its funding for departmental programming
  • A philosopher is retiring or leaving or being hired by the department (if you’re the faculty member or a chair of one of the relevant departments, feel free to comment; otherwise, those with this kind of info should email it to me privately first as the relevant parties may have good reasons to not share it yet)
  • Changes to departmental or university policies that affect graduate students (e.g., program requirements, health insurance, availability of summer teaching, etc.)

Thanks for your help in sharing information of this sort.

I understand that some commenters may wish to use pseudonyms when providing this kind of information, particularly if it is unwelcome news. That is alright, but you need to enter in a working email with your comment (the email address is not published) so I can follow-up with you if need be, prior to publishing your comment. If you have commented using your real name and a particular email address before, to maintain your pseudonymity I’d urge you to comment with an alternate email address this time (as sometimes the commenting system does not register changes to name/email pairings).

The Great Conversation published by Oxford University Press

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Johannes Dymer
1 year ago

Prospective students applying to Baylor’s philosophy program should know that the university just eliminated funding for 6th years. My understanding is that this is university-wide, or at least affects all humanities departments.

Baylor boasts a 71% placement rate, one of the highest in the country. It’s a huge draw for prospective students; after all, who doesn’t want the best chances possible at landing a job? But the conditions under which that was made possible have changed now. In the past, the vast majority of students took advantage of a 6th (and even 7th!) year of funding. While only 5 years of funding is guaranteed, the department has had no trouble securing additional time and funding for anyone who needed it, and it’s been generally understood that our positions are secure if the job market doesn’t work out in our 5th year. This additional year+ allowed grad students to get additional teaching experience and focus the majority of their job searching efforts after intensive dissertation writing was done.

What’s more troubling is that this news was announced last week, and affects everyone. Meaning, if you’re currently in your 5th year and not ready to defend, you’re in quite a pickle.

The option the administration has extended is to continue as a grad student in your 6th year via adjunct funding. Meaning, while our peers continue to receive increased funding (up to $26,000/year in 23/24), we would teach twice the load for $18k/year. Cost of living in Waco is going up, as it is everywhere, and I don’t think anyone is going to be able to survive on that.

My guess is that the administration wants our funding to look good on paper–they have been quite concerned with appearances for their R1 status–without actually increasing the budget dedicated to grad students.

So, if you’re thinking of applying to Baylor, I’d be aware that the 71% placement rate may be in jeopardy. We’ll see how things play out but it seems dubious that they can do such good work without the support of the administration. And I will add, it does appear to be the administration at fault here; I don’t think this is something the department chair is able to influence much. Still, with record undergraduate enrollment, it doesn’t seem like Baylor is hurting for cash that could be used to support grad students more.

Barry Ward
1 year ago

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
We recently hired Jenna Donohue (UCLA; Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Applied Ethics) and Ashley Purdy (Pittsburgh; Normative Ethics, Kantian Practical Philosophy, Philosophy of Action). 
We have dropped the GRE requirement for our MA program. 
Students in our PhD program can now obtain Doctoral Fellowships from the Grad School (in addition to the TA positions that are also available to our MA and PhD students).
For more information: