Is the Academic Job Market a Ponzi Scheme?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Professors at graduation (flickr: briannaknt)

Going back to school for a masters or doctorate degree may seem like a smart move in this economy. And universities are happy to get grad students, upon whom they rely for inexpensive, labor-intensive research and to teach undergraduates. But while getting a PhD might stave off the job search for five to seven years, the prospects for getting a teaching job at a university afterwards are slim. The long-term professional positions will be few and far between. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that while academic positions are expected to increase by 15 percent over the next ten years, most of those positions will be for graduate assistants and non-tenured instructors. Is it a "social trap", with academic hopefuls getting the short end of the stick? 

Dr. Monica Harris thinks so. The Takeaway speaks with the social psychologist from the University of Kentucky, who has quit taking doctoral candidates because she "doesn't want to be part of the problem."


Dr. Monica Harris

Produced by:

Kateri A. Jochum

Comments [1]

If your only goal in getting a Ph.D. is to score a plum tenure track professorship then you're definitely setting yourself up for decades of frustration. It might take you a decade to get your doctorate, then there's post docking and if you're lucky an assistant professorship.

OTOH there are jobs in industry and government; especially for science and engineering graduates. That's what I did. You lose academic freedom in industry but I found working in R&D fun and fulfilling.

That said there's also a surplus of Ph.D.s in physical and natural sciences. That's why you have all those physics and math quants creating economic disasters on Wall Street.

Aug. 19 2010 06:35 AM

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