USC Dornsife philosophy program ranks No. 1 in placing PhD students in academic positions
In this detail of Raphael’s 1511 School of Athens fresco, Plato (center left) and Aristotle discuss their philosophical theories. (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

USC Dornsife philosophy program ranks No. 1 in placing PhD students in academic positions

The School of Philosophy bests virtually every other philosophy department in the English-speaking world. [1¾ min read]
Lance Ignon

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

As it turns out, excellence is a habit for the School of Philosophy at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

A recent survey of 123 philosophy PhD programs found that USC Dornsife’s placed more graduates in permanent academic positions than any other. The program beat out similar efforts at virtually every other major university in the English-speaking world, including the Ivy League schools, Stanford, the University of California campuses, Oxford, Cambridge and … well, just name any prestigious institution of higher education from California to Canaberra.

Scott Soames chairs USC Dornsife’s School of Philosophy. (Photo: Peter Zhaoyu Zhou.)

The survey, conducted by researchers at UC Merced, looked at the placement rate of PhD graduates in permanent academic positions. USC Dornsife placed 78% of its PhD graduates in permanent academic positions during the past five years. Only two other institutions had placement rates that reached into the 70th percentile during the same time period: Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both of which placed 73% of their PhD graduates.

During the past 10 years, USC Dornsife placed 79% of its PhD graduates in permanent academic positions. Only MIT, at 84%, had a higher rate for the same period. When programs were given a composite rating based on the total number of PhDs, their placement rates and the strength of recommendations given their alma mater, USC Dornsife was number 1 and MIT number 7.

“All this was achieved during a period in which we more than doubled our undergraduate majors by showing how philosophy can be the partner of all advancing disciplines,” said Scott Soames, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and chair of the program.

The study found that PhD graduates landed positions at more than 1,700 universities around the world. “Of the over 15,300 job placements in the database, there are over 6,000 permanent academic placements, over 7,600 temporary academic placements, and over 1,600 nonacademic placements,” according to the study.