Williams vs. Princeton vs. Amherst for philosophy major

My interest is mainly about Foucault and Marx(continental approach).
Love small colleges.
Don’t mind rural.
Want to pursue a PhD.

Why not check the curriculums / interests / research covered at all three to see which matches up best?

But assuming you’re not in yet, then also find your targets and safeties (the most important group) - those are for daydreamers (mainly) and there’s nothing wrong with that…someone will get in. Just not 95% of those who apply.

Good luck.

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Is this hypothetical or have you been admitted to all three? If hypothetical, you realize that these are 3 incredibly selective schools with admissions rates of 9.8% (W), sub 5% (P) and 9% (A). These admit rates are inclusive of athletes, other hooked applicants and ED applicants in the case of Williams and Amherst.

This site includes Williams, Amherst and Princeton:

The site also may be valuable as a source of ideas for additional colleges to research.

Undergraduate Study 2022 – The Philosophical Gourmet Report has some suggestions for selecting an undergraduate college for philosophy:

  • Consider undergraduate educational quality.
  • Consider strength of philosophy department (which they rank for graduate programs here).
  • For colleges without graduate programs in philosophy (e.g. LACs), consider breadth and depth of philosophy offerings, where faculty got their PhD, and size of the philosophy community. (But some of these characteristics may pull in opposite directions from the small class sizes that are sometimes seen as improving undergraduate educational quality.)

Note that, for graduate programs in philosophy, Princeton is not the top ranked one in the state of New Jersey. The good news is that some of the well ranked research universities in that list are not hyper-selective, so if you prefer a larger research university, you can still find strong philosophy department. If you prefer a LAC, the commentary in the page linked above suggests that you can still find a strong philosophy department at a LAC which is not hyper-selective.

As part of your research, you may want to consider the popularity of philosophy as a major at colleges of potential interest. IPEDS is a good source for this. As examples from your list, Amherst graduated seven philosophy majors in a recent year and Williams graduated six:



Should you want to consider other LACs, Hamilton is notable for offering a summer program in philosophy, which may reflect the strength of its department overall.


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Since it’s now June 1st, and it’s a bit late to be deciding which college to commit to, we can assume that it’s theoretical.

@Tri3 Acceptance rate to these three colleges are in single digits, and for Princeton, it’s under 5%. For “unhooked” students, cut those in half. So the chances that you will need to choose between these three is miniscule.

What grade are you in? Unless you are a rising senior, you shouldn’t even be thinking about specific colleges.

So think “Liberal Arts College”. The percent of students who attend a LAC who end up doing a PhD is higher than at research universities. Moreover, acceptance rate from LACs to “elite” PhD programs are far higher than they would be from research universities with the same acceptance rates. This is important.

Since you are already thinking of a PhD program in philosophy, my central piece of advice is: don’t do it.

Here is an article you may want to read, even if you have a few years before you start your undergraduate degree:

Thanks anyway

Thanks, just being curious.

Thanks anyway for what - I gave you guidance.

This isn’t a question just to ask - do your homework.

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Why can’t I have a question to ask?

This is just a HYPOTHETICAL question.
This is a high school student asking out of curiosity.
This is a person who DO have an opportunity to attend a top university asking.
This is a student who only check the forum AFTER finishing homework etc.
So plz don’t judge.
Thank you very much.

You can ask - and I gave you an answer because you threw out specific names and topics.

In this case, you should do the research.

The site offers these suggestions:

However, with respect to these schools, where are the faculty? Lawrence appears to list four philosophy instructors; IWU appears to list two:

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Though far from religious, the oldest Wesleyan University in the United States has eleven (11)
Faculty, Philosophy - Wesleyan University

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I have really no idea where the best place to study philosophy might be. I did it at a large R1, but it was a sleepy little department that few kids accessed, both because it doesn’t sound employable and because it had a reputation on campus as a tough major (which it was). Having said that, I have to agree with the author cited by @ucbalumnus on the point about student/teacher ratios. Philosophy doesn’t teach well in an auditorium setting in my experience.

I can’t imagine you’d go wrong at any of those three. And although I’m sure W & A are great places at which to study philosophy, and we know LACs are a great foundation from which to launch future plans to get a PhD, I’m sure Princeton would be just fine too. :wink: