Presently many college seniors are preparing to send applications for graduate study in philosophy. With a large number of programs, students have many choices. There have been some attempts to rank the strength of philosophy doctoral programs: one popular ranking focuses on perceptions of faculty quality; another highlights the number of publications and citations of faculty work. Still another allows users to select from a wide mixture of criteria to produce personalized results. One of them ranks programs in medieval philosophy. (An older version additionally identified unranked programs that have specialty niches in medieval philosophy.) Unsurprisingly, most attempts to rank philosophy doctoral programs generate criticism.
One less-than obvious way to determine which graduate schools emphasize the philosophical thought of Thomas Aquinas is to examine the number of dissertations on Aquinas produced at each school. One can consult The Review of Metaphysics, since the September issue of each volume includes a roundup titled “Doctoral Dissertations” that gives the titles of theses from North American institutions. Alternately, one can search Dissertation Abstracts with an institutional subscription, or use the much-abbreviated free version.
Since 2002, at least 20 North American institutions have granted PhDs in philosophy to students with dissertations on some aspect of Thomas Aquinas’s thought. Unsurprisingly, Catholic University, St. Louis University, Fordham University, and Boston College lead in the number of such degrees. Prospective philosophy graduate students should also keep in mind that that there are quite a number of overseas programs offering graduate studies in philosophy in the English language. Students should be encouraged to apply widely; there is some perception that acceptance into doctoral programs in philosophy has become more competitive in the last decade or so, and some evidence supports this view.