Another Big Drop in History Majors: Yes, This Is Still Happening

The world has much bigger problems, but this still bothers me. Last time I looked at this data I wasn’t surprised to see a decline;
I was surprised at how large it was. But maybe that 9 percent drop in history majors between 2013 and 2014 wasn’t aberration after all? Maybe we should have seen it coming as early as 2010, when it became clear that the history major at the big research universities was trending down. Or when it became clear that the “market share,” the percentage of all bachelors degrees that are history degrees, was in a noticeable decline—that’s been going on for almost ten years now. Regardless, now we are here: between academic years ending in 2014 and 2015, the number of bachelor’s degrees in history dropped by 9 percent, for the second year in a row.

Charts below are highly interactive, so rather than having to read my long, dull rundown of all the different breakdowns, you can explore, ask questions, and tell me what you find.

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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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