More History PhDs (Again) but Fewer with Jobs out of the Gate (Again)

In contrast to the declining number of bachelors degrees in history, the number of PhDs in history continues to rise, according to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). I’ve updated 2013’s visualizations with numbers covering those who graduated in 2014 (released last month). The updates are below, with a few brief comments.

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  • The 2014 survey shows the gap between those who have definite employment and those still seeking a job widening dramatically. Nearly 46 percent of new history PhDs were still seeking employment at the time they took the survey. Only 37 percent had definite jobs. In 2013 the difference in percentages was less than one percent.

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History PhDs and Their Plans: An Unhappy Milestone in the SED Report

Update: I’ve added the 2014 survey data, released in December 2015, to the visualizations below. The post covering this data is here.

Is it bad luck to start a new blog with bad news? Looks like we will find out. As has been noted elsewhere, new data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates is not encouraging. For humanities PhDs,  it contains a grim milestone. A multiyear trend, which saw the proportion of humanities graduates who had definite employment falling and the proportion of job seekers rising, has come to this: In academic year 2012-13 there were more job seekers than those with definite employment.

Humanities being a broad category,  I wanted to see how well historians fared (I’m ABD in history but not headed toward an academic job). The chart below tells the story.

(Use filters on the side to compare humanities fields. More charts below or in the full post.)

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Source: Survey of Earned Doctorates. Percentages based on total responses.

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