Where to Study Philosophy
Although there is one particular area that is clearly the "philosophy area" of the United States, the northeast is a good area to consider when considering where to study philosophy. International students who are considering a philosophy major will find many strong schools throughout the U.S., but especially in the north.
There are strong schools of philosophy scattered around the entire United States. International students will find that they have many options and should gear their choices around what location suits them best. For the most part, potential students need not worry about having to travel to a particular area of the U.S. to find a good philosophy program. However, if an international student wants to simply be around the best schools of philosophy that are clustered most closely, he or she should consider the north east United States, the New York region, specifically. For the most part, though, students who want a philosophy major should choose their education based on a particular school's appeal to them, and so the question "Where to study philosophy?" Is best answered based on the student's individual needs. Unfortunately, though, philosophy has become extremely under-funded in the U.S. and international students may find their options becoming fewer and fewer.
Generally, the best area for a philosophy major in the U.S. is in New York – such as New York University (NYU) and SUNY Brockport. NYU is the top school of philosophy in the United States. International students who take philosophy extremely seriously and wish to be surrounded by the best and most well-published philosophers should consider the New York area, if not NYU specifically. Potential students can investigate the top schools using the "Philosophical Gourmet" report. The Philosophical Gourmet is a listing of the top schools by the prestige of their faculty, and NYU's faculty has been reported as number one for many years.
Many of the top schools of philosophy are located near NYU. Take, for example, SUNY Brockport that was named Best Northeastern College by Princeton Review. SUNY Brockport's program is designed to train students' brains to think critically and tackle some of life's biggest questions. With its expert faculty and intimate setting, international students will get more personalized attention while delving into questions that have been posed by philosophers throughout the years. Other top schools of philosophy can also be found nearby in New Jersey, like Princeton University and Rutgers University.
Generally, the best area to be around philosophy and schools that take philosophy seriously is the northeastern United States. To some degree, this is the result of funding in the states. Currently, many schools in the southern United States are underfunded and are having to cut programs. International students who are considering a major in philosophy should take this problem seriously. Unfortunately, one of the first programs that are generally cut are the philosophy programs. For this reason, students should investigate not just the school, but also the school's plans for the future.
It is important to note, though, that when answering, "Where to study philosophy?" what is of far more importance than geographic location is the quality of the school itself. Being in the New York area is no guarantee of a good philosophical education. Students who are seeking graduate degrees in philosophy should be sure to meet the faculty and apply to schools that focus on their own major interest in philosophy. The Philosophical Gourmet Report provides a listing of schools by departmental focus as well as by top overall school. Potential graduate students should investigate the report and contact the faculty at those schools which specialize in their philosophical focus.
Undergraduates who are pursuing a philosophy major should be more concerned with the general level of education offered by the school and the region. The northeastern U.S. is generally better funded, but, for example, NYU's undergraduate rating is not as high as its graduate ratings. An undergraduate may benefit more from attending a smaller, more affordable school as many larger undergraduate programs are taught by teaching assistants rather than professors. For this reason, international students should investigate the quality and culture of the school as well as the general location.
In general, around the United States, philosophy programs are losing funding. The benefit of attending schools in the northeast is that they are less likely to cut a philosophy program's funding. However, no school is immune from these cuts. Students pursuing philosophy degrees should make sure to think deeply about their plans. A Bachelor's Degree in philosophy has few philosophy specific job opportunities. So although philosophy majors do well in their chosen fields, it is important to note that international students with BA's in philosophy find work in other fields including education, business, finance, management, and law. Students who wish to become professional philosophers have the best reason to consider higher-level philosophy programs in the northeast. It may be wisest for the student to attend a lower-cost school with smaller classes and approachable faculty for his or her Bachelor's degree and then apply to the higher-level schools for a more advanced degree.