Sunday, December 18, 2016

Blog CCXXI (221): The History P.h.D./Major After Graduation

This blog started as a forum on which a dude in mid-career could give advice to junior scholars about some of the things I have learned on the job; that was not part of my formal grad school training.  Over the years, I think I have maintained that focus fairly well.

One of the things that I have been trying to do with the blog is to discuss options for Ph.D.s outside of a history department, because the numbers make it clear that is the fate waiting for half of those that finish.  John Fea's blog has probably offered better information on that venue than I have.  In a post on his blog "The History Majors We Celebrate" he asks: "What would happen if we celebrated our graduates who get jobs in the corporate or nonprofit world in the same way we celebrate those who have been accepted to graduate schools at Ivy League universities?"

That is a pretty good question/point.  Non historian types are the type of people that are going to make lots of money and be willing to donate it to their alma matters in years to come.  Fea's series "So What CAN You Do With A History Major?" does a good job of exploring this issue.  Blog CCV has a series of links to the individual essays in this series.  One particularly interesting post in the series was a pie chart that the History Department at Dartmouth put together on the post graduation careers of their graduates.  While it is an Ivy League school, Dartmouth has no Ph.D. program, so it is a study of what undergraduates did with their degrees.  Long story made short: a lot of different things.  The biggest single group was law, but that was only 23 percent.

People finishing their Ph.D.s should really look at this chart to get some ideas on what to do after graduation, if there is no job offer pending.  (You can only do adjunct work for so long.)  Rebecca Schuman has an interesting article on this topic in Slate: "Alt-Ac” to the Rescue? Humanities Ph.D.s are Daring to Enjoy their 'Regular' Jobs, and the Definition of Academic Success is Changing. Sort Of."

I am not sure if that "Sort Of" part is true for historians, but it should.

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