The Ever-Tightening Job Market for Ph.D.s

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Bruce, Jul 30, 2017.

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  1. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

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  2. Darkwaters

    Darkwaters New Member

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    We've all heard the stories of students with intense amounts of debt. I think the current average students gets out of undergrad with $30k in debt. But there are always those outspoken ones with insane numbers like $100,000 or even $200,000 for a bachelors (and its always from a big school, but in a field that offers no potential for high incomes).

    Our culture has an infatuation with getting into the "best schools" and praising the Lord that we got in. So maybe it's excessively expensive. Does it matter?! It's a great school! You'd be crazy not to go there since you got in! Based on that brand name you'll be making way more after graduation anyways. And besides, long term debt is a problem for tomorrow! Getting in is an accomplishment in and of itself! Why would you not want to be accomplished?!

    We have a lot of students that fail to make the basic ROI calculation regarding cost of program vs. potential earnings vs. chances of landing a job that really is just common sense when you think about it. It doesn't surprise me that so many Doctoral students continue to struggle with the same life skills that undergrad's do. Many of them haven't had the formative life experiences that teach them these things since they've been in the artificial bubble of academia for so long.
     
  3. decimon

    decimon Active Member

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    The social non-sciences (sorry, Bruce) have been pervasive for a century and to no positive result. What good the PhDs?

    STEM PhDs? As many as are needed is as many as are hired.
     
  4. me again

    me again Active Member

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  5. JBjunior

    JBjunior New Member

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    The problem will continue as long as the government is supplying the funds with no restrictions on the result. We have incentivized peoples uninformed/uneducated dreams, not societal economic realities. You want a useless undergrad? By all means we will pay for it. Have excessive debt and no job? Grad school will allow you to defer it. Still can't find a job? Maybe a PhD will finally make you marketable. Oh, now you have the rest of your life to be buried in debt and make $40K a year to pay it back... perfect. At least you are educated and it makes you a better citizen.

    Anecdotal at best, when I took the LSAT a few years ago I had time before the test to talk with a handful of those there to take it. Expecting to find others like me that had a desire to actually get a JD as a genuine goal to enter the field, instead I found 24-28 year old retail workers that realized their undergrad didn't get them what they wanted, were now working a dead end job, and figured going to law school (deferring their student loans and obtaining many more) was their best course of action. My meaning is that it became a goal out of necessity or being pushed into a corner, not something they ever intended on having to do. If someone else was willing to throw money at them to go, why not?
     
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  6. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Member

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    The market for some PhDs is hot. Certain disciplines within business such as finance and accounting pay upwards of $200K a year to start for larger universities for a 10 month a year contract. Disciplines such as sociology, history, poly sci, etc. Forget it, the market's not good and not likely to be good for the foreseeable future.
     
  7. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

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    Sorry for what? Calling Psychology a non-science?

    No need for an apology, but if that's what you meant, you're simply misinformed. Psychology isn't just someone laying on a couch and telling the therapist about their mother issues, as so many seem to believe. That's a tiny percentage, actually.
     
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Active Member

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    The market for practicing psychologists is very good. There are several government programs that will reimburse you for your student loans due to the severe shortage. There just aren't enough clinical sites for training. I would expect that some here wouldn't recognize the advances in mental health practices because they have untreated mental problems themselves. Anyway, I know a lot of veterans suffering from PTSD who are very grateful. And, the substance abuse program I worked in significantly lowered recidivism rates.
     
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  9. Johann

    Johann Active Member

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    I believe an untreated disorder is mandatory for Internet access. I don't "suffer" from mine - but I make sure others do. It's a gift. :smile:

    J.
     
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  10. decimon

    decimon Active Member

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    That's the oldest dodge in the book.

    The question is what of mental health has improved.
     
  11. Johann

    Johann Active Member

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    I believe quite a lot has improved, decimon. I'm no expert; my only knowledge comes from personal observation/experience and about 18 units of undergrad psych, some 30-or-so years ago.

    Here's an outfit that posts about advances in the past 30 years. https://www.bbrfoundation.org/about/timeline

    Many journals post details of new treatments etc. regularly. I used to have to read and cite some, for essays. It's a constantly improving field. Certainly, a lot of work has been done re: addiction, depression, criminal rehabilitation and lots else. We're certainly not "there" yet and will likely never be. Life is not perfect. And psychology is really a multi-pronged discipline, given to specialization.

    J.
     
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  12. decimon

    decimon Active Member

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    Are you saying that there is less addiction, less depression and more criminal rehabilitation than a hundred years ago?
     
  13. sanantone

    sanantone Active Member

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    You seem to be mixing things up. Advances in social science are usually a reaction to societal problems. You seem to think they are the cause of societal problems. Physicians over-prescribing opiates, which is the main cause of the current heroin epidemic, has nothing to do with social science. The government turning a blind eye to Nicaraguans supplying urban neighborhoods with crack also has nothing to do with social science. Urbanization also has nothing to do with social science. HIV wasn't around in the past. Do you blame the medical field for it existing? Allergy rates have skyrocketed over the past 100 years, especially the past 20 years. Are you going to blame the medical field for increases in diabetes, cancer, and obesity?

    You seem to think everything was great 100 years ago. As a black person, you couldn't pay me a billion dollars to time travel back to 1917. Even if I weren't black, I'd likely be a dirt poor southerner who would die by the age of 55.

    One major advance in mental health treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT has helped millions with various mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders. You seem to think that there were less problems in the past. The truth is that they were just better hidden. The mentally ill were locked away in asylums. A lot of people just simply died of their addictions without any treatment.
     
  14. decimon

    decimon Active Member

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    I haven't enough life left to address all of that. And you left out the moon landings.
     
  15. sanantone

    sanantone Active Member

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    Talk about dodging.
     
  16. heirophant

    heirophant Member

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    Regarding the topic in the subject line, the "ever-tightening job market for PhDs", I'll say that I once thought that distance learning was a possible solution for those of us who had deep intellectual interests in our subjects but looked forward to few good job prospects after earning a graduate degree. My hope was that DL would enable people like me to study part-time from wherever we were, while still holding down a day-job.

    Unfortunately, it hasn't really worked out that way. Online doctorates are still few and far between, despite DL having become commonplace and ubiquitous in the last 25 years. And the few online doctorates that exist are most often hugely expensive while offering none of the institutional financial support like that full-time on-campus doctoral students often receive. So the way the programs are designed, they are pretty much guaranteed to be as bad an option as quitting jobs, moving to college towns and studying full-time on-campus. What's more, DL doctorates are almost always offered in high-demand subjects which kind of defeats the purpose that I'd envisioned for them, as a haven for low-demand subjects allowing programs with small on-campus enrollments to offer them to a much larger pool of prospective students.

    Even worse, even other DL students have hardly been supportive. There have been no end of "Want fries with that?" threads right here on Degreeinfo. Back when I was posting under my real name, I remember arguing endlessly with otherwise smart people who loudly and vehemently insisted that people like me had no business studying subjects like philosophy at a graduate level, because there are so few good teaching jobs out there. Which seemed to me to miss the entire point.

    Degreeinfo had seemingly become a bad caricature of high-school, with the jocks tormenting the more scholarly nerds.
     
  17. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    These are all very good points, hierophant.
     
  18. heirophant

    heirophant Member

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    I'm hugely skeptical that subjects like sociology and cultural anthropology are 'sciences' in the same sense that physics and molecular biology are.

    Psychology is a borderline case I guess, midway between the sciences and the humanities. There is definitely a scientific side to it, in cognitive science and areas like that. But probably the great majority of 'psychologists' are clinical psychologists, and I'm more doubtful about the scientific credentials of a lot of that.

    The thing with the 'social sciences' is that they seem to have arisen in the 19th century as part of an Enlightenment-inspired social program. The Enlightenment was hugely impressed with the success that Newtonian physics was having in the 18th century. They decided that this success was the result of science employing a particular method. And the 'Age of Reason' decided that if that wonderful method could only be applied to society and to social problems, all manner of obscurantism would be swept away and a paradise of progress would eventually result. Hence the rise of the 'social sciences' in the succeeding century.

    Unfortunately, as Decimon points out, we've seen little or no evidence of that utopian expectation coming to fruition. What we see instead are lots of crudely conceived surveys, some basic statistics, and conclusions drawn that often seem to me to confuse correlation with causation. Much of it doesn't even seem to be verifiable or repeatable.

    Why the social sciences differ so much from the natural science is an interesting question in the philosophy of science. My own speculations are that it's due to there seemingly being no 'laws' of historical change analogous to the 'laws of physics'. (Sorry Karl Marx.) And what's more, the social sciences don't seem to be reducible to the natural sciences in the way that molecular biology is reducible to biochemistry and hence to physics, where events on each emergent level can be explained in terms of events on the next lower level.
     
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  19. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

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    As far as I'm concerned there is no question that you're right. I don't know that it's even a debate, is it? Is there someone saying they're the same thing? In any case, I find the subjects immensely interesting. At the same time, I don't know how many Social Scientists are "required" and I'm happy to let the market make that determination. I suppose there will always be people who earn PhDs in something like Anthropology and then can't find relevant employment. There are also people who will spend their money on lottery tickets. So you just hope that they know that the odds are against them and say 'good luck.'
     
  20. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

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    Indeed, and even though it's my "favorite" social science, it's the same with economics.

    I think the biggest epistemological problem is that you can't run a real experiment without a control, and that's typically not possible in the social sciences. And this leads to the follow on problem that the social sciences are susceptible to ideological infiltration in a way that the physical sciences aren't, which causes an inaccuracy feedback loop of assumptions that are unquestioned and, increasingly, unquestionable.

    That doesn't mean I think there are no useful insights in the social sciences, there definitely are many. I just think these disciplines more belong in the philosophy building than the science building (with the exceptions of things like physical anthropology and neuropsychology).
     

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