Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Where to Study Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art [updated 2020]



This post provides all of the information that is currently available about where to formally study aesthetics and philosophy of art in English. It is an updated version of this post from 2018.

How to Use the Below Guides

Each of these guides has some potentially useful information. They form a complex Venn diagram of overlapping information, and students interested in pursuing aesthetics and the philosophy of art may want to consult all of them before making any final decisions about where to apply or accept.

A note to prospective PhD students: Be aware that the job market for aesthetics-specific jobs is generally pretty dismal, even relative to the already pretty dismal philosophy job market. It may be slightly improving, but it isn’t great. My own advice, for what it’s worth: A good strategy for you is to nurture other areas of specialization alongside aesthetics, and therefore to use the below guides to inform but not dictate your choices of graduate program. But as always, ymmv.

Readers should also feel free to comment here or contact me with additional information, and I will update this post accordingly.

The American Society for Aesthetics Graduate Guide

The American Society for Aesthetics maintains an updated graduate guide, based on responses from departments themselves. It is aimed at “students who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in philosophy with an expertise or competence in aesthetics or the philosophy of art.” It features:

  • 65 departments in Canada, Mexico, and the United States
  • a breakdown of departments by PhD (47 programs) and MA (18 programs)
  • explanations of the program’s general orientation (analytic, historical, continental, etc.)
  • approximate course offerings
  • a list of relevant faculty and their areas of research

The British Society of Aesthetics

The British Society of Aesthetics maintains a list of specialized degree programs, where one can go to earn a specialized degree in aesthetics, philosophy of art, literature, art history, art theory, etc. Note that these programs offer degrees like an MA in History and Philosophy of Art, rather than an MA in Philosophy with a special curricular focus on aesthetics and philosophy of art. Still, it’s worth noting that many of these programs are run by philosophy departments, so that philosophy is likely to be the core of the curriculum.

Crowdsourced Google Doc [ongoing]

This is a live, crowdsourced Google Doc that aims to fill in some gaps left by the above guides. It features:

  • a list of faculty in English-speaking philosophy departments worldwide, organized by continent and country
  • undergraduate-relevant information as well as MA and PhD information
  • some faculty specializations

If readers have additional information to add to this document (or spot any mistakes that need correction), please feel free to do so!

The Philosophical Gourmet Report

The Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR) offers a reputational ranking of philosophy departments in the English-speaking world, collected through surveys of philosophy faculty. Readers should be aware that this ranking is controversial. Still, this isn’t the place to to rehash all of the debates about the report, even those that have appeared on this very blog. Here is its most recent Philosophy of Art ranking (from 2018), which features:

  • programs from the UK, Canada, and the US
  • reputational rankings based on surveys from senior faculty
  • programs sorted into tiered groups (1-4)
Image credit: “Mortlock Library” by runmonty via Flickr

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