Sunday, September 16, 2012

How Bad is the Academic Job Market?

History is supposedly one of the worst most over-supplied fields for academic employment. I often read about how "there are no jobs" and only going to Harvard or Princeton for your PhD can get you a job. But that is anecdote. Here are some data for the US history market. The main issue I think is that only 50% of starting PhD students ever complete the degree. However, of those that do complete the degree 60% end up with tenure track jobs within 10 years of starting. 20% end up in non-academic jobs and 20% are stuck with adjunct type positions that usually pay terribly and are very insecure. This doesn't seem that bad. Of course, the fraction who end up with jobs at research oriented universities is going to be quite small. If you want to have a good chance at a job like that you really do need to go to a top program. The same is true for other academic jobs markets like economics too, of course. Even though the economics job market is better but mainly because a lot of foreign students return to their home country and there are more good non-academic jobs available for econ PhDs.

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