It took me seven years to earn my Ph.D.  “After undergrad!?” is one refrain I hear after confessing this fact.  “Yes,” I explain, “after undergrad.”

Truth is, seven years ain’t bad.  My cohort at the University of Wisconsin, Madison started with 18.  By the time I graduated, nine had dropped out, and I left six more still struggling to finish.

The graphic below gives you an idea of how typical my experience was:


In general, the physical sciences get their students out quicker; as far as social sciences and humanities go, Sociology isn’t doing too badly.

Of those students that finish in the Humanities, devoting five to fifteen (maybe miserable) years of their life to post-graduate work, about one-third will be unemployed.  Just about 50 percent of graduates will find some kind employment in academia, this includes part-time and temporary work (and increasingly so).  As you can see, very few find work outside of academia.


Unfortunately, the job market for Humanities PhD grads is predicted to be the worst we’ve seen in 35 years:


The economic downturn in the U.S. is doing serious damage to the job market. Unfortunately, when the job market recovers, there will be a backlog of students looking for work. Perhaps there will be a hiring frenzy as institutions fill positions left empty during the downturn and professors who had put off retiring decide to go for it. I don’t know.

Does anyone have the cure for the data-induced depression from which some of our Readers are now suffering?

New York Times, via Graphic Sociology.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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