Jump to content

Large department vs small department


The number of faculty members  

9 members have voted

  1. 1. What is better in philosophy's academy?

    • Smaller department with less members teaching or researching (30,15, or less)
    • Larger department with more members teaching or researching (40, 60, or more)

Recommended Posts

I have been looking at the number of teachers and researchers of the departments of philosophy. There are many interesting variances, most in USA are either 15-30 or 30-40, and many other foreign universities have bigger departments with 60-100 or more.

So, many foreign universities have two or four times more faculty members in philosophy than those of USA. 

What is better? A larger department or a smaller one? Some thoughts:


  • More intimacy and attention, everyone knows everyone.
  • Less variety of current investigations.
  • Probably less students, and therefore less people to know and to talk with, although you know everyone.


  • Less intimacy and more anonymity, you know only the nearest ones.
  • More variety of current investigations.
  • Probably more students, and therefore more people to know and to talk with, although you will not know everyone.

The size of USA's departments of philosophy surprised me, I did not expect them to be so small. Also, there is not a correlation between the "prestige" of a department and it's size, many of those well regarded departments are very little, specially in the USA.

Anyway, the size of the department will affect your experience as graduate student, definitively.

What do you think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, AnotherFanOfKant said:

I'd definitely prefer a rather small department, but one that isn't too narrow-minded in terms of the faculty's approach toward different areas of philosophy and 'ways' of doing philosophy.

On this note, which US departments stand out as particularly small or big?

Brown has 15 members, MIT has 18 members, Columbia has 24 members.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess the important measure is professor to grad student ratio, but even that is unreliable since we really only want to count the professors that are actively involved with grad students. i think the number of undergrads also makes a difference, as less undergrads means less time devoted to teaching them and more time working with grad students

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair point. I was asking about the number of profs out of curiosity, but you're right that actually it doesn't matter that much in abstraction from other facts, such as # of undergrads, # of grads, profs' involvement in teaching and so on. Although, still, the overall atmosphere or feel may be affected by the very size of the department. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.