Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog LXXVII (77): Honors to the Blog, Part IV

I know people are reading the blog, the little ticker on the right side of the screen tells me so, but every once in a while people actually write about this blog, which makes me feel good. Recently the website:, which is about leaving academia, had an exchange in which the webmaster of the site, quoted a letter to him that had several nice things to say about "In the Service of Clio." Here is a section from that post, which quotes the letter:

"One my favourite blogs is 'In the Service of Clio' ( Nick Sarantakes, a diplomatic historian at the U.S. Naval College, discusses the historical profession and career management. He essentially walks potential students through the process: applications, grad school, career planning and publishing. He features different experiences through guest posts from those within and without the tenured system. There was a lengthy series discussing adjuncts. He has also looked at alternative career options for historians and recently presented at AHA on 'Careers in History: The Variety of the Profession.'

"As a recent history grad, who has just applied for a master of strategic studies, this blog not only deals with the painful reality of academic life but also discusses the
discipline’s problems and encourages students to look outside academia. One of my favourite posts
( is a string of emails in his department discussing whether a student should pursue a Ph.D in international affairs.

I agree with one professor’s statement, 'In the current market, I would not recommend seeking a Ph.D. at any but the best programs because the top five or so programs already produce enough Ph.D.s to fill all the available openings each year. True, you could go to work for the government, if you have marketable skills (foreign languages are crucial), but then why get a Ph.D.? Under no circumstances does it make sense to fund the program yourself, with work or loans or whatever–that is almost a certain road to poverty.” I couldn’t put it better: if there’s full funding and career prospects, grad school might make sense; if not, don’t waste your life.'"

While this is directed at PhD’s the same goes for a Master’s degree. If you love the subject, then go for it. But realize that it is a personal journey, not a career investment. If you like, you could take 50,000 dollars and tour Europe, and then find a job in a few years. Resume-wise, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. I am being ironic, but not too far off base.
Short answer, the money and time won’t pay a big enough return in your career. Do it to learn, but just remember that you will be in the same position career-option wise with a BA as you would be with a MA or PhD. Lots of school, but no skills in a specific industry.

Sorry to be such a negative voice.


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