, again, did I go into this profession?
For six years, Rebekah slaved at Boston University for her PhD in American Studies. Her plan: work in New York as a museum curator. She pictured chatty, engrossing interviews with like-minded creative types. “Everyone would be so pleased” with her PhD, she thought. Yet eight months after graduating, Rebekah is unemployed and considering a gig at a public library that requires only a GED.
The demand for humanities PhDs has long been tight -- for four decades, the number of jobs requiring them hasn’t kept pace with the number of people earning them. But by all indications, recent university hiring freezes and evaporating grant money have reduced the world’s most elite degree to junk-bond status.
On the Modern Language Association’s Job Information List, a bellwether for PhD employment trends, the number of job postings is down 21 percent, the steepest decline in the list’s 34-year history. One attendee of last month’s annual MLA convention in San Francisco, where doctorate graduates can score interviews for tenure-track professorships, found the event rendered “somber” by the scarcity of opportunities. The same air permeated last week’s American Historical Association conference. “Job candidates who a year ago had goals of four or five interviews here were thrilled to have one,” reported InsideHigherEd.com.