Ph.D. Programs Should Change but Not Shrink, MLA Says

Humanities doctoral programs are under intense scrutiny. Policy makers, scholars, and the public have questioned whether universities should be producing so many Ph.D.’s in those fields, especially when the job market for tenure-track positions is tight.

The Modern Language Association on Wednesday proposed a path forward for doctoral programs in literature and languages that calls for change but not contraction.

In a document, titled “Report of the Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature,” the association agreed with critics on one point at least. “We are faced with an unsustainable reality,” the report states.

What needs to change, the report says, is the length of time it takes to earn a Ph.D. and the narrow view many hold of the career paths for Ph.D.’s. The median time-to-degree for language and literature doctoral recipients is nine years, which the report says is too long. And the academic-job market provides tenure-track employment for only about 60 percent of doctorate recipients, the report notes. <Read more.>

Via Vimal Patel, The Chronicle of Higher Education.