AHA Publishes 2020 Jobs ReportHistorians in the News
tags: AHA, jobs, academia
Dylan Ruediger is coordinator of Career Diversity for Historians and institutional research at the AHA. He tweets @dylan_ruediger.
Every winter, the AHA publishes our analysis of the academic job market for historians, based on advertisements placed on the AHA Career Center and (for the past several years) the H-Net Job Guide. Together, these sites provide a reasonably comprehensive picture of national hiring trends for tenure-track faculty positions, postdocs, and full-time non-tenure-track positions. As our work on Career Diversity has made clear, the academic job market is one among many: it has no monopoly on interesting, remunerative careers that make good use of historical expertise. Nevertheless, most historians are employed in academia, and the health of the academic job market is an important indicator of the discipline’s place inside the nation’s colleges and universities. Like the humanities generally, history has seen decreased enrollments and a decline in the number of majors since the recession of 2008–09. This long-term trend might have finally bottomed out, thanks to the creativity and determination of faculty who are reinvigorating history courses, and departments willing to put student interests and outcomes at the center of their curricula. Meanwhile, departments have responded to years of difficult academic hiring cycles by shrinking the size of their doctoral programs.
We may have reached a point of stability in the academic job market: during the 2018–19 hiring cycle, the AHA Career Center hosted advertisements for 538 full-time positions, a 1.8 percent decline from 2017–18. A decline in ads for positions beyond the professoriate dropped from 59 to 51, accounting for most of that decrease; by contrast, advertisements for academic positions remained virtually unchanged. Tenure-track jobs declined from 320 to 318, postdoctoral fellowships rose from 78 to 79, and non-tenure-track positions increased from 91 to 92. Jobs open to historians placed on H-Net declined by 9.3 percent. Together, the two leading job boards indicate a modest 2.9 percent decline in tenure-track positions and a 5 percent decline in contingent faculty positions compared to 2017–18.
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