Ph.Ds, Tenure-Track Jobs, and Liberal Arts Undergrads


Came across an interesting article on my Google Reader feed about advanced degrees and the job market, or “Why You Aren’t Entitled To A Tenure-Track Job Because You Have A Ph. D”. I feel the whole bit about the people who immediately go from undergrad to grad school due to a “love affair with books and ideas” and/or those who are “bored by the ill-paid, entry-level jobs they are eligible for immediately following graduation” (which falls after the blockquote).

In fact, I don’t know a single form of professional education that guarantees its graduates a job, whether the market is good or bad, and why Ph.D. granting programs have a special moral responsibility to do this is unclear. But on the job wikis and the blogs there is an emerging consensus that the jobless should have received a waiver of liability with the letter of admission (which Brown University actually used to send its graduate students in English back in the sad old 1980s, and most of us who knew someone who received one were horrified by the practice.) Resentful job seekers , in other words, speak in the language of fraud rather than regret. This I find astonishing, given that an hour of research prior to applying, or accepting an offer of admission, could tell any prospective graduate student what their academic job prospects might look like six to seven years hence.

The only thing that makes this phenomenon less astonishing is that today’s prospective graduate students were yesterday’s undergraduates, and undergraduate education has been trending towards nanny-ism and false guarantees for several decades. But what is it that graduate programs and professional associations could do to intervene in this situation? I have three suggestions.

via Tenured Radical: Playing The Blame Game: Or; How Should Graduate Schools Respond To The Bad Job Market?.


One thought on “Ph.Ds, Tenure-Track Jobs, and Liberal Arts Undergrads

  1. Thought this was a really interesting article, and found myself reading through ALL THE COMMENTS.

    Two things:

    1) Perhaps because I am also doing something where has a tiny success rate (starting a food business in the SF Bay Area), I have to believe that despite the odds, if you’re extraordinary, you can make it. You can have one of those 300 tenure track teaching jobs.

    2) I am also in complete agreement with the poster. Too many of my friends who went straight from college to PhDs, or MAs, or professional schools, did so because it was the path of least resistance. What could be easier after four years of college that trained you in the ways of being a good student to just plow on ahead? I also think there are too many people who didn’t think through their decision to pursue a/their graduate degree, and are now looking for people to blame,

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