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Ph.D. Supply and Demand

SAN DIEGO -- As history graduate students arrived in the large table-filled ballroom here Friday to try to learn how to find a job, the room was seriously overheated. These would-be professors didn't need any more sweat or discomfort.

The temperature was adjusted, but the challenges facing those on the job market were an undercurrent here throughout the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Attendance was down, in no small part because history job openings are way down, so far fewer departments are doing interviews at the meeting. While the graduate students here talked strategy and hoped to pick up leads on positions or how to make themselves more marketable, many professors were talking about whether doctoral programs should change -- both in light of the tight job market and out of larger concerns about graduate education.

Some here argued that this is a time to focus on helping students get through and promoting alternative employment options that make use of their skills outside academe. Others, however, argued that this is a time to redouble efforts to reform graduate programs, with some going so far as to suggest (with pushback from others) that graduate enrollments may be too large and that history graduate students may not be paying enough attention to issues that are "relevant."

The ballroom gathering Friday is part of an annual effort at the meeting to provide some coaching to graduate students about the job hunt. Different types of employment categories are placed on signs on different tables -- community colleges, public research universities, private four-year colleges, public history jobs, and so forth. An employed (typically tenured) faculty member or professional from the relevant employment category then provides some tips on hiring in that sector, and the students brainstorm. ...
Read entire article at Inside Higher Ed