Is America Pumping Out Too Many Ph.D.s

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Lerner, Jan 4, 2021.

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  1. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/america-pumping-too-many-ph-120020855.html

     
  2. Dustin

    Dustin Active Member

    As the article notes, I think an "oversupply" of PhDs is only an issue if those newly-minted doctors are looking to stay in the academy. PhD programs do need to make sure they're providing opportunities for those who want to go into industry, rather than chasing increasingly competitive professorships.

    This is an issue. You see the same thing in many high schools, where teachers (at least in Canada) have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree plus a year of Teacher's College, and if they went into teaching right out of university they don't know anything about how to get an apprenticeship or even the quality of polytechnic or applied colleges (versus 4-year university) educations.

    I assume this is based on data, but the unemployment data I've seen shows that doctoral-level degree holders have the lowest unemployment rates. Even considering that this includes medical doctors and tech PhDs, there can't be enough of those to artificially depress the unemployment rate so much that it completely masks high unemployment among humanities PhDs, right?
     
  3. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    In 2000, the unemployment rate for PhDs was very low. Now, most PhDs end in jobs that normally only require a Bachelors or become adjuncts forever. It is not unusual for people to spend several years as a post doc to land an academic job.
    It is normal, with the internet many universities went online and this increased the number of adjunct positions and decreased the number of permanent positions. Also, the world changes too fast, it is not very optimal for a university to hire a tenure track professor in a field that might not exist in 10 years. I studied Information Systems and now most schools are looking for digital transformation professors that is not the same thing, in less than 10 years your field becomes obsolete.
     
  4. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Most PhDs are employed, it is unlikely that a PhD is unable to find work. The problem is underemployment, most of these jobs only require a Bachelors. In my University, most Academic administrators hold PhDs when the requirement is only a Bachelors.
    There is also a large pool of people that become adjuncts forever, the salary for an adjunct might be low but most prefer this low salary than taking a job in industry that might pay a bit higher but with less freedom.
    Many people just do an online PhD to boost as CV, as many companies reimburse tuition fees many just get them to become more competitive in the job market.
     
    JoshD likes this.
  5. JoshD

    JoshD Active Member

    I believe you are mixing up underemployment and unemployment. Underemployment means that they essentially do not make full use of the skills that they have garnered. It would be like an MD or DO doing the work of a RN. They would not be making full use of their skills/education.
     
  6. Acolyte

    Acolyte Member

    I guess it would depend on what "underemployment" really means. If you aren't using "all of your skills and knowledge" but you are earning a very high salary as a specialist or consultant outside of academia, then is that really being "underemployed"? I would think a PhD or other professional doctorate (EdD, DPS, etc.) would be a good qualification for just about any strategic executive position or independent consultant.
     
  7. Dustin

    Dustin Active Member

    Oops! All of you are right, I misread the original statement as being about the unemployment rate but it wasn't.

    Yes underemployment is likely to be an issue if you're in a role that doesn't need the doctoral-level skills.
     
  8. Acolyte

    Acolyte Member

    I think your original statement about it only really being an issue if one wanted to go into academia was pretty spot on.
     
  9. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    We can also think about PhDs in a few buckets:
    Some people have PhDs in "disciples" with market demand (e.g. business, finance, et al).
    Others have PhDs in areas that are intrinsically valuable, but for which there is no market demand (e.g. history, philosophy, etc.). To paraphrase a line from Dead Poet's Society, "medicine, law, business, all honorable subjects necessary for life, but philosophy, poetry, music, this is what we live for."
    Others have PhDs in BS topics that should never exist in a proper society (see grievance studies).
     
  10. Dustin

    Dustin Active Member

    Woah! This is new to me. I knew about Sokal's hoax paper but didn't realize that was just the tip of the iceberg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grievance_studies_affair For anyone else new to that term.
     
    innen_oda likes this.
  11. innen_oda

    innen_oda Active Member

    I don't so much have a problem with PhDs in subjects like grievance studies - I just wish it wasn't so restricted to one particular, specific viewpoint.

    If just knowing the subject to your PhD tells me your position, then yeah, that's a problem. But that's a cultural artefact, and not a feature inherent to the topic itself. It'd be like if a PhD in theology automatically informed me which specific religious sect a person adhered to (say, Scientology), because that was the only perspective permitted in the tertiary learning environment.

    Which is really what Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian were trying to show - it's become less about honest scholarly investigation, and more about ideological adherence, no matter how ridiculous the premise.

    Its an indictment on our culture and how we handle enquiry, NOT the genre itself.
     
  12. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    This is a bit biased. Grievance studies might mean nothing to you but I know people that make a living as grievance counsellors, psychology is a very saturated field so a MS in Psychology might see this PhD as a way to differentiate themselves and work in hospitals, religious institutions. We should not judge something just because we don't know it.
     
  13. Dustin

    Dustin Active Member

    I think we need to separate out "grievance studies" which in this context is used to refer to academic disciplines that tend to be associated with grievances, such as critical race theory, postmodernism, queer studies, gender studies, etc. The people who write papers in those fields tend to have doctorates in Sociology, Gender Studies, Social Work, etc.

    I haven't studied any of it so I won't pretend to know the legitimacy of those grievance studies, but they are different from grief counselling/grief studies/thanatology which is more in the Psych and Clinical Social Work practice-side of things like you mentioned.
     
    Acolyte likes this.
  14. Acolyte

    Acolyte Member

    I don't think "grievance studies" means "The Psychology of Grieving" - which is what you are talking about. I think it means the ways in which certain groups of people have a "grievance" with the power structures of our contemporary society. In other words, a kind of "victimhood" or opression. - disenfranchised groups, women, minorities, LGBTQ+ people, etc.
     
  15. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    A University technically can have a PhD in any field they want, all we need is a body of knowledge and recognized research in a field. Some people here were arguing about a PhD in Cryptozoology but if you check, there are recognized journals with articles in the subject so technically we could have a PhD in this field but the question is if we have enough funding for faculty and if there is enough interest in the public for this field.

    Something like a PhD in Scientology is feasible, this could fit in religious studies. Would it be there interest in the field or market for this PhD? probably not but there is nothing that prevents us from having a PhD in this field. Some Universities allow PhD dissertations in subjects like UFOlogy, Beatles music, etc, so there is no restriction for this.

    I have worked in academics for a while and have seen PhDs come and go. I have seen a PhD in Music Therapy that started and eventually was phased out, there are some people that make a living as music therapists but the field is not profitable enough to justify a PhD. I have seen a PhD in Women Studies that also was phased out and other fields that never took off. In my own faculty of business, we have phased out programs that were in demand one day like operations research or MIS.

    In few words, nothing last forever and things evolve, one field might be relevant one day and the next day become irrelevant.
     
    Acolyte likes this.
  16. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    It doesn't really matter, as we dont know exactly what it is and the market, we have no right to diminish it. If the PhD has no market, it will die by itself.
     
  17. innen_oda

    innen_oda Active Member

    I don't think you quite grasped my post.

    If someone has a PhD in gender studies, I can almost guarantee what sort of perspective they have on gender issues.

    On the other hand, if someone has a PhD in religious studies, I have no way of knowing what religious views they hold - if any at all.

    And therein lies the issue with grievance studies. It lacks honest intellectual enquiry, and as a genre, is generally unchallengable within academia.

    This doesn't need to be so, and it is not a quality inherent to grievance studies.
     
  18. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Russians once had an idea for Grand PhD degree a higher post PhD degree.
    It went no were except a few $$$$/€€€€ in to some operators pockets.
     
  19. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    Universities, in the historical sense, were based on free and critical inquiry in the pursuit of knowledge. I find grievance studies as more of a "faith-based" irrational world view which does not belong in the university. For example;
    A) Observation... purple people are victims because they are under-represented on cricket teams
    B) Logical error: Correlation does not mean causation. Need to investigate further.
    C) Grievance studies: Of course correlation means causation for the victim classes, you must be racist.
    D) But there is evidence that the under-representation of people on cricket teams is because they freely choose not to play cricket
    E) Grievance studies: That is your version of truth (science), there is no such thing as objective truth.
    F) PhD Paper: How the under-representation of purple athletes on cricket teams is an expression of racial oppression.





    Haidt does a good job of explaining the issue here...

     
  20. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    Uh, no. There are a decent number of people in the US who believe the earth if flat. That doesn't mean that the science department should offer a PhD in flat earth science if they can find a market.
     

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