You are here

As more humanities Ph.D.s are awarded, job openings are disappearing

Monday, August 28, 2017 - 02:00

Many new Ph.D.s in humanities disciplines report that they struggle to find academic jobs, and that many of the positions they find available are off the tenure track.

Data released Sunday night by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences show that these individual reports reflect realities in a wide range of humanities disciplines. And the data show that Ph.D. production in these fields is up, suggesting that the job shortage is not about to go away any time soon.

The data are part of the academy's Humanities Indicators Project, which is regularly updated with new analyses -- many of which alarm academics in humanities, even as they applaud the availability of the data.

Those Entering the Job Market

One analysis released Sunday looked at completions of doctoral degrees. Humanities programs awarded 5,891 doctoral degrees in 2015. That is the largest number recorded back to the start of collection of such information in 1987. The figure was only  (Indicator II-10b). 3,110 in 1988, then rose steadily to 4,994 in 2000, dipped to about 4,700 from 2002 to 2007, and then started going up again, year after year.

The long period of time it takes to earn humanities doctorates (8-10 year time to completions are not uncommon)