… Fewer tenure-track opportunities exist for new Ph.D.’s, and more of them are exploring careers outside the professoriate, whether by choice or not. The most recent federal data show that, even as universities produce a growing number of Ph.D.’s, a declining percentage of them report having firm commitments for jobs or postdoctoral positions. Of those who reported commitments, only about half were taking academic positions.
As a result, universities have been under pressure in recent years to improve career services for Ph.D. students. Graduate-student leaders often say it is their top priority, and influential disciplinary groups like the Modern Language Association and American Historical Association attribute the job-market woes facing new Ph.D. students to “underutilization,” not overproduction.
But the administrators who have taken on these roles face a host of challenges. Unlike with career counselors for undergraduates, in many cases there isn’t an established road map for the post or a campus infrastructure to support it. What’s more, the position means not just helping newly minted Ph.D.’s find jobs, but leading a cultural change at universities, where some faculty members may resist the idea that a doctoral degree should be used for anything but scholarly pursuits. <Read more.>