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OBOR Statement

The philosophy department at Bowling Green State University specializes in applied ethics and moral and political theory. The department aims to provide a strong theoretical base for its students to pursue the range of issues around public policy and applied ethics. Since enrolling its first doctoral students in 1988, and awarding its first Ph.D. in 1993, the department has rapidly achieved national prominence. For several years now, the department has been rated as unsurpassed in the United States in the areas of applied moral, political, and social philosophy (including medical ethics) by the Leiter Report which is the most widely used and respected ranking of philosophy programs. The research that particular faculty have done and are in the midst of can be found on each faculty member’s web page through the “Faculty and Staff” link on the department home page.

Applicants for the Ph.D. program would usually be expected to have a B.A. with a major or minor in philosophy. Our typical graduate student has an overall GPA of about 3.5 or better, a GPA in philosophy classes of about 3.7 or higher, and a combined GRE score of near or over 1800. We strongly encourage applications from people that do not fit our standard profile, and regularly admit students who provide compelling explanations of why they will be successful in the program despite the fact that they do not meet this profile. Details about how to apply, and an online application form, can be found by following the Graduate Program link on the department home page.

The philosophy department serves the needs and interests of Ohio and the region through a variety of outreach activities. Most prominent and unusual is the opportunity for graduate students to complete internships related to their course of study. An average of two students per year take advantage of this unique option. These students have utilized their philosophical training in making significant contributions to activities in settings ranging from hospital bioethics programs, to research centers and think-tanks, to organizations addressing environmental issues. A complete list of completed internships can be found through the link to “Completed Internships” on the department home page. In concert with the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, the department also serves the needs and interest of Ohio and the region by sponsoring various programs of speakers and conferences on topics of important philosophical and social import. More information on these activities can be found by following the links to “Philosophy Colloquia and Conferences” and “Social Philosophy and Policy Center” on the department’s home page. 

A 1997 New York Times article, “Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life and in Work,” reports that “92 percent of those with doctorates in philosophy were employed full time in 1995, compared with 85 percent of those with music Ph.D.’s and 87 percent with Ph.D.’s in art history, according to a study by the National Research Council. The median income for philosophy Ph.D.’s that year was $46,800 compared with median 1995 earnings of $48,100 for engineers […].” This is the most recent such data that we are aware of. The percentage of Ph.D.’s that are employed full-time mentioned above includes people not working in the area of their Ph.D. work.

Of the 42 Ph.D. graduates since the program’s inception, 30 (or 71 percent) have found secure (meaning tenured, tenure-track, or similarly secure continuing employment). Of these positions, 23 are in academic settings, 4 are in non-academic settings related to the graduate’s course of study, and 3 are unrelated to the course of study. Thus 64 percent of our Ph.D. graduates have found secure positions doing work related to their area of graduate study. Nine graduates (21 percent) continue to find academic work in their area of doctoral study, but in jobs with less security (e.g. temporary or adjunct positions, and 3 (or 7 percent) are still seeking employment. Almost all of those with less secure employment or who are still seeking employment (10 of 12) have graduated within the past 3 years. The specific details about our Ph.D. graduate placements can be found on the department page link “Completed Dissertations and Placements”.

The last comprehensive review of the department was completed in 2003. The handful of suggestions for improvement resulting from this review, which focused almost entirely on the undergraduate program, are being addressed. The next review will occur in 2007.