Letter to Prospectives from APA

From: The Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association

Re: Graduate Study in Philosophy and Employment Prospects

On behalf of the American Philosophical Association, we welcome your interest in continuing your philosophical education by pursuing a graduate degree.

There are many good reasons for continuing the study of philosophy beyond the undergraduate level. It can be intrinsically rewarding, and some simply wish topursue it further for its own sake. Others are interested in its bearing upon related areas in the humanities, arts, sciences and professions. many are attracted by theprospects of academic careers as philosophy teachers in colleges or universities. Advanced degree programs can also provide a solid foundation for careers in a variety of other areas, and for further graduate study in their disciplines and professions.

It is important for you to have a realistic appreciation of the career opportunities to which such study may lead, and to take this into account in making your decision.

We are convinced that for those who have discovered in themselves a love of philosophy, and who have the motivation and ability to pursue an extended and demanding program of advanced study, there is much to be said in favor of graduate work in philosophy today.

Academic Careers

Teaching at a university or college is the long-term academic goal of most philosophy graduate students today, and approximately 80% of those who hold pH.D.'s in philosophy are employed in higher education. The academic job market has been tight during the past 20 years, and budget cutbacks in recent years have affected colleges and universities throughout the country. Faced with severe budget constraints, some institutions respond even to increasing enrollments and retirement not by hiring new faculty but simply by increasing class size and adopting other such expedients. In philosophy as in many other disciplines, there are at present substantially more candidates seeking academic positions than there are positions available.

Non-Academic Careers

The skills and training one receives as a philosophy graduate student are valuable in many other careers in addition to college and university teaching. A graduate degree in philosophy can also be evidence to prospective employers that one is capable of creative and analytical thinking, and is proficient in research, reasoning, problem-solving, and verbal and written communication. Among the fields to which philosophers have successfully transferred their philosophic backgrounds and skills are teaching at the pre-college level, educational administration, computer technology, law, medicine, business journalism, publishing, management,government, and administration of non-profit organizations. The range of non-academic careers for which graduate study in philosophy is valuable preparation is rich and diverse.

Further Information

As you approach the completion of your graduate studies, you will want to obtain specific and current information about changes in employment opportunities.Placement offices and faculty members at graduate departments can provide helpful information. Periodical such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and Change magazine publish articles on academic employment trends. You can also obtain additional information about employment prospects in philosophy by writing to the APA national office. Careers for Philosophers, a booklet available through the APA, describes some non-academic careers in which philosophers have found success.

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