The recommendations are premised on three assumptions about what is needed to do good PhD work on Nietzsche: (1) a strong, general philosophical education; (2) good Nietzsche scholars to supervise the work; and (3) a philosophical environment in which one can get a solid grounding in the history of philosophy, especially ancient philosophy, Kant, and post-Kantian German philosophy.
With that in mind, here's the eight programs I'd strongly recommend for someone certain they plan to focus on Nietzsche:
Birkbeck College, University of London:
a solid department overall, albeit a bit narrow (top 10ish in
the UK), unusual in having two very substantial Nietzsche scholars on
faculty, Ken Gemes and Andrew Huddleston. If one reaches out to faculty
at other London colleges, one can also get the necessary historical
education in other figures.
Brown University: a
strong department overall (top 20 in the US), with one leading
Nietzsche specialist, Bernard Reginster, and two other senior faculty
with sympathetic interests in Nietzsche (Paul Guyer and Charles
Larmore). Guyer and Larmore, as well as Mary Louise Gill, provide
strong coverage of other important periods and figures for purposes of
Columbia University: a very
strong department overall (top 10ish in the US), with three senior
faculty interested in Nietzsche: Taylor Carman, Robert
Gooding-Williams, and Frederick Neuhouser (though only Gooding-Williams is really a specialist). With these three, as well as
Lydia Goehr and (part-time) Axel Honneth, also one of the best places
in the U.S. to study the Continental traditions in philosophy. Also
offers strong coverage of ancient philosophy and Kant.
New York University:
the best department in the Anglophone world, now with three senior
faculty with serious interests in Nietzsche: Robert Hopkins, John
Richardson, and Tamsin Shaw (though only Richardson seems to be actively working on Nietzsche these days). The department now also has strong
coverage of ancient philosophy and through Richardson, Anja Jauernig and
Beatrice Longuenesse, has strong coverage of Kant and the post-Kantian
Continental traditions. (I'm told Longuenesse may retire soon, something prospective students should investigate). Given the department's dominant strengths in
other areas to date (e.g., metaphysics, philosophy of mind), so far
there have been few students there working on Nietzsche or other
post-Kantian figures--something a prospective student should
a very strong department (top 5 in the Anglophone world), with strong
coverage of ancient philosophy and the history of philosophy, with one
significant senior Nietzsche scholar (Peter Kail) and one younger
Nietzsche specialist (Alexander Prescott-Couch). Stephen
Mulhall, Joseph Schear and Mark Wrathall offer good coverage of other
aspects of the
post-Kantian Continental traditions, especially Heidegger and
a very strong department overall (top 5ish in the US), with one leading
figure in Nietzsche studies, Alexander Nehamas, who has supervised a number of students working on Nietzsche in recent years (e.g.,
Huddleston at Birbeck, above). Also very strong in ancient philosophy,
with other faculty in Philosophy or cognate departments offering
some coverage of Kant and post-Kantian German philosophy (mostly
19th-century). Note: Nehamas is now in his early 70s, prospective students should make sure he plans on continuing to accept and supervise students.
University of California, Riverside:
a solid department overall (top 30ish in the US) and one of the best
places in the U.S. to study the Continental
traditions in philosophy with Maudemarie Clark (a leading Nietzsche
specialist) and Pierre Keller, as well as Georgia Warnke
in Political Science. The department is especially notable for the way in
which the study of the Continental traditions is closely integrated
with the study of the rest of philosophy, to the enrichment of both.
(It's also a very collegial place, one of my favorite departments to
visit in the country.) There is also a large and impressive group of
graduate students working on the post-Kantian traditions and/or
interested in Nietzsche.
University of Chicago:
a strong, if somewhat idiosyncratic, department (top 20ish in the US),
with particular strengths in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and in
Kant and post-Kantian German and French philosophy. Chicago has to have
more scholars interested in Nietzsche from more divergent points of
view than anywhere else: besides me, also Martha Nussbaum, Robert Pippin,
David Wellbery, and (part-time still) James Conant and Michael Forster. As with
Riverside, there is a large group of students interested in Nietzsche
(six of the eight PhD students I've worked closely with in the last half-dozen years have had serious Nietzsche interests, two have published on Nietzsche, and one is writing a dissertation with a significant Nietzsche component). Note: Most of Pippin's supervision has been of students working on Kant or Hegel.
University of Warwick:
a solid department overall (top 10 in the UK), with two senior scholars
interested in Nietzsche (Keith Ansell-Pearson, Peter Poellner) from
different perspectives, and strong coverage generally of Kant and the
post-Kantian Continental traditions (e.g., Quassim Cassam, Stephen Houlgate
[who also is interested in Nietzsche]).
Here are some other departments a student interested in Nietzsche should certainly consider as well:
a solid department (top 50 in the US), with a strong commitment to the
history of philosophy, including Kant and the post-Kantian Continental
traditions (BU recently added Sally Sedgwick from Illinois/Chicago). One well-known Nietzsche specialist (Paul Katsafanas, though he is pushing a rather distinctive, and to my mind,
implausible line about Nietzsche these days, though I still highly
commend several of his earlier papers that we've discussed on this
blog in the past--but students sympatico to his approach would no doubt
find him an excellent person with whom to work).
a very strong department (top 10ish in the US), with two senior faculty
who have done important work on Nietzsche: Lanier Anderson and Nadeem
Hussain. In the past, I would have put Stanford in the top group, but
Nadeem tells me he's not really working much on Nietzsche anymore. Also
strong in ancient philosophy and, with Anderson and Michael Friedman,
also very good for Kant. The department's center of gravity, judging
from its PhD graduates, does appear to be more in logic, language, mind,
metaphysics and epistemology.
University of California, San Diego: a
strong department (top 20ish in the US), with two senior faculty
interested in Nietzsche (Michael Hardimon and Donald Rutherford), and
extensive coverage of ancient philosophy and Kant. Recently added at the junior level Monique Wonderly, primarily a moral philosopher, but who also has an interest in and has published on Nietzsche.
University College London:
a good department (top 10 in the UK), with three faculty with interests
in Nietzsche: Sebastian Gardner, Mark Kalderon, and Tom Stern--though
for none does it appear to be a primary interest, except perhaps Stern
(though I am not a fan of his work). Gardner is also a major
scholar of Kant and German Idealism.
University of Essex:
a narrow department, but strongly focused on Kant and the post-Kantian
Continental traditions. One well-known Nietzsche specialist on faculty: Beatrice Han-Pile.
University of Southampton: A solid but not top 15 UK department, with a particular strength in Schopenhauer
and Nietzsche--most notably Christopher Janaway, but others in philosophy or cognate units include David Owen, Aaron Ridley, and Tracy Strong. Note that Strong is in his mid-70s.
For a student looking to do a
terminal M.A. first, s/he might consider any of the UK departments
(where students first do a master's degree or B.Phil. before doing the
PhD), or, in the U.S., Georgia State University remains far and
away the best choice: in addition to solid coverage of moral, political
and legal philosophy, ancient philosophy, and philosophy of mind and
cognitive science, the department has two well-known scholars who work
on Nietzsche (Jessica Berry and Gregory Moore), and two other faculty
who work on Kant and post-Kantian German philosophy (Sebastian Rand and
The best Nietzsche scholar on the European Continent is Mattia Riccardi, now at the University of Porto in Portugal. Also in Portugal, The New University of Lisbon continues to have a lively philosophical community interested in Nietzsche led by Joao Constancio.