tenure track

Can any of you philosophy grad students tell me about the availability of tenure track positions in philosophy. I've spoken to a lot of my undergraduate professors and some grad students that I know, (I've been contemplating the whole grad school thing for a while) but I've gotten mixed responses. Some say it is extremely difficult to get a tenure track position and some say it is not as hard as everybody says. Obviously nothing like this is easy, but if one does relatively well in grad school with good letters of rec. and a good dissertation, would it still be that difficult to get a tenure track position? I really love philosophy, but I don't think I want to go through 5 years of a PhD program just to not have job security. Thanks.


Go for the grad school thing! If you can get adequate funding, it's like a respectable form of welfare for doing something you love.

You're totally right about the "levelling" in philosophy departments. They only teach a few streams, and produce grad students versed in only these streams and this makes a cut-throat job market post-grad school.

By the looks of it, everyone on this goddamn board is specializing in some type of analytic or logic philopsophy with maybe Wittengenstein thrown in. Just think that'd you'd have to compete with all these other people who have the same interests as you.

So, it's really important to specialize to an extent (but not over-specialize) and really develop a niche for yourself. Even though I'm in Sociology, I've been working inter-disciplinary since I've been undergrad and I'm easily qualified to work in numerous departments (art history, cultural studies, literature, politics, philosophy or sociology). After I'm done my MA in Sociology I'll probably take my doctorate in another discipline.

I have to say from experience, is that there's a lot of schmucks in grad school too. Simply, not every student in grad school is brilliant, far from it. So you're not exactly competing with an exclusively elite group. If you can work somewhat creatively and not cause too many problems, then you're probably better than 80% of the people in grad school with you.

Another thing, you will not get tenure track straight out of grad school or straight after your Ph.D. Now, you're usually expected to have published at least one book as well as reams of articles. Usually after grad school you'll be putting in time at community colleges, or teaching under a limited contract at a University. From what I've seen, it's like 5 years of 'real world' experience before a University will consider you for tenure... Though I'm sure good grades and letters from grad school will help, practical experience post-grad school is what matters. Again, departments aren't looking for generic philosophers either, so you should defintely distinguish yourself in some way.

Then again, having an immediate tenure track position isn't exactly essential... My friend, who just got her MA in sociology this April, was immediately given a position at a community college teaching some stupid class she has no intrest in, but she's making like $4,000 a month for only a few hours of work a week. She defintely doesn't have job security, but she doesn't have any pressure on her either, and she's able move around quite freely if she wants to.

The tenure track is a double-edged. You do have job security, but at the same time you're expected to produce and publish. Having tenure is almost like taking on another job.

... just my 2 cents.

Yeah, she got a contract for $16,000 for 4 months. It's a community college in Kamloops BC (read: middle of nowhere) so it might be the reason for the relatively high wage.

She's got a good gig, and as far as I know, she's just smoking dope and sitting on the cash she's making.

Thanks hakujin. That gives me some good things to consider.

Oh, one other thing to consider...

Don't get your doctorate in city you'd eventually like to work or settle in... Simply, your 'home' University will likely pass you up for new blood and other Universities in the city will be reluctant to hire the product of another competing University.

It's quite rare that a University will hire one of their own students (outside of menial teaching positions during their schooling) let alone give them tenure.

Can I have her phone number?

The tenure-track people I know have the following commonalities. They had a well-known person in the field supervise their dissertation. This created a network of contacts who recognized their name, and associated it with the thesis advisor. They all did a post-doc fellowship after their PhD. This adds more to the CV than you'd think. They all began working in an academic setting as research assistants/associates with part-time teaching positions. None of them are doing it at the same institution that awarded them their PhD (with one exception). They all had a lengthy list of publications to their credit, either as first or second author. they have a proven ability to attract funding for their research projects.

Hope this helps.