Thursday, August 25, 2016

Too many PhDs

Most of us don’t have PhDs, so maybe this tidbit is of limited interest, but….

There aren’t enough jobs in academia or the business world for all of the folks who succeed in getting their doctorates each year—not by a long shot.

A recent story on says:
The lure of a tenured job in academia is great — it means a secure, prestigious position directing a lab that does cutting-edge experiments, often carried out by underlings. Yet although many yearn for such jobs, fewer than half of those who earn science or engineering doctorates end up in the sort of academic positions that directly use what they were trained for."

In biomedicine, fewer than 1 out of 6 grads with the “Philosophiae Doctor” degree can get one of those tenure-track jobs.

I’m no fan of academic tenure, or tenure of any other stripe. I think it’s nuts to guarantee lifetime employment to anyone, be she a smart prof or a Supreme Court justice or anyone else.

It’s too easy to say that anybody who wants a doctorate should be free to get one. Most of those pre-doc students are being subsidized by their colleges or someone else (including taxpayers).

Of course, I know that many of those students graduate with a bundle of college loans, but nevertheless, we—individually and collectively—are paying for too many folks to get an expensive education that has way less than the presumed payoff for the PhDs and the rest of our society.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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