Feminist Philosophy Graduate Programs


NOTE: What follows is an incomplete, collectively assembled report. This is not an exhaustive report, and schools are listed in the order in which their information was received; it should be taken as narrative testimonial and not as scientific data. Programs are listed because faculty and/or students within the program suggested them; no program below was listed based on third-hand accounts of reputation.


Edited by Kathryn J. Norlock - - please contact me with updates and corrections, which I can continue collecting to add to a later version of this list: kjnorlock@smcm.edu.


What follows are, first, general information sources, second, individual institutions that were either recommended overall by grad students and professors, or recommended for housing feminist philosophers even if not described as feminist-supportive, and third, a summary of comments on the state of the situation for feminist women in graduate study.


Informational sites:

1. The Leiter report released in November 2004 does have a list of "feminist philosophy" programs:



2. A list of the percentage of female faculty (tenured/tenure-track) at 94 doctoral programs, including every department on Leiter's "top-50", maintained by Julie Van Camp ("a different matter, of course, from feminist philosophy, but worth looking at" [--JVC]):


(Some departments have one notable feminist, but no others. Some department with a decent representation of women don't necessarily have many feminist philosophers.)


3. And future sources cometh: From Lisa Tessman, FEAST (The Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory) is in the process of putting together links from the FEAST website <www.afeast.org> to the departments of FEAST members that offer graduate degrees and are feminist friendly.  And its been noted on this listserve that the APAs CSW is doing similar work.

Individual institutions and philosophers [14 so far, 4 of which SUNY Stony Brook, Stanford, Western Ontario and U. of Minnesota -- overlap with the Leiter Report; assume that many of these departments do not explicitly support feminism as a philosophical enterprise, sub-discipline, or critical methodology, unless the notes suggest otherwise]:

1. SUNY Stony Brook

Notes: described as definitely feminist friendly.  Two feminist scholars have recently left (Linda Alcoff & Kelly Oliver).  Eva Kittay and Mary Rawlinson are on faculty.  Many of the male professors are both open to and knowledgeable of feminist philosophye.g. Eduardo Mendieta & Lorenzo Simpson; Lee Miller directed Susan Bordo's dissertation.


2. Michigan State. 

Notes: Amazing strength in feminist philosophy.  Four faculty members do feminist philosophy here: Lisa Schwartzman   ---   political theory sort of stuff
Hilde Lindemann   ---    editor of HYPATIA; ethics, medical ethics, other "applied" ethics
Me (M. Frye)   ---   language, ontology, radical feminism
Judy Andre  ---   ethics, health care, value theory
and two more faculty members are women: Debra Nails (ancient) and Jennifer Susse (metaphysics and philosophy of mind), and both are feminists in their own selves, though not doing feminist philosophy as such.  We also have two people doing race theory, and people in interdisciplinary work related to ecology, health care, biological sciences, food and agriculture, development.  It's a very politically progressive department, with plenty of support for feminist philosophy.  


3. University of Western Ontario

Notes: feminist as department chair (me[Samantha Brennan]) and a feminist philosopher as Dean (Kathleen Okruhlik). Other faculty include Tracy Isaacs (ethics, feminist ethics, collective responsibility), Carolyn McLeod (feminism, moral philosophy, and health care ethics), and Helen Fielding (feminism and phenomenology). We currently have graduate fields in moral, political, and legal philosophy as well as philosophy of science and history of philosophy. We are in the process of having graduate fields in philosophy of mind and language, and feminist philosophy recognized by the Ontario College of Graduate Studies. In the past few years we have been host to conferences of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy and the Society for Analytical Feminism. We also hosted an independent conference simply called Feminist Moral Philosophy.


4. Stanford University (Modern Thought and Literature program)

Notes: MTL is an interdisciplinary PhD program, but it has a strong relationship with philosophy. Described as extremely supportive of feminist graduate work.  Debra Satz and (soon) Helen Longino on staff


5. SUNY- Binghamton University

Notes: Offers a unique autonomous interdisciplinary program, Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture (PIC), leading to MA and PhD degrees, independent of the Department of Philosophy, though members of that department are members of the PIC faculty and serve on student committees. Grad program in philosophy includes Social, Political, Ethical and Legal Philosophy (SPEL) and several feminists on the faculty of both, [Maria Lugones, Lisa Tessman, Jeffner Allen, Bat-Ami Bar On, Melissa Zinkin] and a few other faculty members who are reasonably supportive of feminist philosophy. Many graduate students do feminist work in the department.  MA and PhD students can earn a Graduate Certificate in Feminist Theory (alongside their degree in Philosophy) from the Women's Studies Program.


6. University of Alberta

Notes: Faculty include Cressida Heyes; more recently Karen Houle; until recently Margaret van de Pitte (retired); Janet Wesselius (visiting); and the (pro)feminist political philosopher David Kahane.


7. McGill U.

Notes: there are presently two philosophers on faculty who do research in or teach feminism: Marguerite Deslauriers (ancient philosophy, feminist political theory) and Alia Al-Saji (French feminism, feminist theory informed/informing race theory).

8. U. of Minnesota

Notes: Naomi Scheman on faculty; Helen Longino going to Stanford


9. Northwestern U.

Notes: Penelope Deutscher on faculty


10. U. of Wisconsin

Notes: Claudia Card on faculty, and as its a large school, offers a decently sized feminist graduate school community

11. Union Institute

Notes: a low residency program (accredited Ohio Board of Regents) with many feminist scholars helpful in designing an interdisciplinary program. 


12. Cal State University, Chico

Notes: feminist philosopher on faculty works with students creating an interdisciplinary Master's degree; feminists in Women's Studies program, philosophy, and religious studies and the student can design an interdisciplinary program. There is a great Women's Studies program there with lots of feminists teaching various disciplines (i.e., religious studies, sociology, gender studies).

13. Cal State LA

Notes: Feminist-friendly and lgbt-friendly MA programs. We have five women, all of whom are feminists: Sharon Bishop, Talia Bettcher, Jenny Faust, Kayley Vernallis and me.  Some of our six men are feminists, too.


14. DePaul University

Notes: Faculty and grad student research interests include (but are not limited to) feminist

psychoanalysis, Global feminisms, feminist political philosophy, Second-wave feminism, feminist ethics of care, black feminist theory, critical race theory, post-colonial theory, queer theory, sexual difference and phenomenology, and feminist critiques of the canon. Those who are not embedded in feminist discourse are nonetheless supportive of feminist interpretations and projects. Twenty-two of our forty-eight grad students are women, and eight faculty members are women. This means that women are not only doing explicitly feminist scholarship, but are making their presence felt in all specializations, including ancient and early modern philosophy.


Summary of Comments:


Graduate students in general report that the search for a feminist friendly philosophy program was done in much frustration, especially due to a lack of guiding publications, knowledgeable undergraduate faculty and (relatedly) sometimes a fairly conservative undergraduate department. Feminist faculty in several graduate programs report knowing of no source of information on pro-feminist philosophy departments.


Most professors and students agreed that it was best to start by identifying programs with at least one feminist faculty on staff, although all recognized this would not or did not yield a necessarily feminist-friendly department. 


Many students and faculty still report a lack of female graduate students, let alone feminist students, and a sense that for many programs, one feminist on faculty is entirely sufficient.  This mitigates against communicative community.  Having said that, no respondent ever described any program as openly hostile to feminism, although several observed, in the words of one, "idiosyncratic" expressions of anti-feminist sentiment by individual faculty and graduate students. The predominant sense was that many departments may not be anti-feminist in principle, but are a long way from being pro-feminist in practice. 


Kathryn Norlock

Philosophy and Religious Studies

St. Mary's College of Maryland