I felt a camaraderie with my professors, and instantly recognized that we understood the world similarly, even if we held different ideologies or were from different backgrounds. Foreign students are not propping up many departments. Never disappoints, if you get a bid from this prof, take it! The coursework in such a doctoral program deals … Easy to work with. At the time, I took this to be a sign of efficiency. Sadly, in the social sciences, things aren’t much better for many of us. This could not be farther… Reserved. Now, as to whether a Ph.D. program will give you what you want, that's a different story. It isn't until you're a full-fledged grad student that you realize that EVERY ONE of those 200 applications comes from someone who was once the best in their department. A myth exists that humanities majors are unemployed and unsuccessful. They not only hadn’t read, the empty stares on their faces screamed “I want to be anywhere but in this class discussing this.” I couldn’t understand this. They teach in return for a complete tuition waiver and usually a modest stipend ($14-$20K/year from what I've seen) and wonderful health care coverage to boot. What in summary do these data tell us – that on average the Humanities majors and the non-Humanities majors really don’t really differ by much with respect to unemployment rates. Full stop. But for those of you unmotivated by such intangibles, here's my financial situation (copied from my admissions letter). My parents are a school teacher and a salesman, so I'm hardly a trust fund kid, but I also know that I could count on them for a few thousand dollars if I really needed it. I don't regret getting my PhD in the slightest. Perhaps there is simply an inverse ratio between how much a person loves something, and how carefully they consider the economic wisdom of pursuing it. I wonder if passion is the key; I don't have any myself, either. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com. The list goes on and on. Academic Year Stipend: $25,260 Hence, I emphasize not going or going if you can find funding. llilly: Most PhD programs in the humanities don't cost the student a dime. Unemployed back in 2003 when jobs were supposed to be plentiful. An college upperclassman considering a humanities Ph.D. has an abundance of people around him/her to provide examples of success in that field: his/her professors. I remember turning to a classmate during graduation and saying, as our school's degrees were conferred (in Latin too), that we had just become unemployed actors. If the PhD candidates are employed by the university, this is paid for. kagi: I've got a Ph.D. in English from a top 10 program, and I haven't got a tenure-track job. I'm not going to argue over any cost/benefit analyses that more business-minded folks want to throw in my path. The asymmetry of info market failure isn't a big piece of this puzzle. jroberts548: Law school is relevantly transparent. PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities work on their doctoral theses in one of several capacities with variable possibilities for financial assistance. I recommend Humanities-Portent. MA in Contemporary History and Politics (Ivy League). They cannot process that reality and we should not expect them to. SO YOU CAN PLAY WHILE WE MAKE YOUR PAPERS GO AWAY! They do see the professorial life (the good part, not the part that's about going to back to work in 20 minutes after I get the kids in bed) as appealing and maintain hope of entering the professoriate someday. We are trying to be responsible people. I've collected some of my favorites below, some of which have been edited for length or typos. A lot of editing will need to happen to make it worth an A. From terror at the overall economy to the financial motivations of the schools to the simple love of learning, commenters offered up ideas based on equal parts experience and thoughtful conjecture. Being a professor is but one option when you graduate with a humanities PhD. (It’ll probably put it on pause.). 2. I have also taught at elite private schools in which much larger percentages go to grad school. Sometimes it is said that liberal arts students go to college to ultimately end up asking "Do you want fries with that?" I'm about to publish a book, but at this point it appears that I will never again have a full-time academic job again. Seriously amazing work- if he bids you I would accept it. Are schools just desperate for cheap labor? Multidisciplinary PhD Programs. My reading is that many humanities grad students view grad school as a lottery ticket. He was unemployed for a year before present job (which luckily he loves). This was confirmed after I discovered that I was the lowest paid employee at a retail store at the mall, yet the only one with a college degree. Finally, as many people have mentioned on here before me: Many programs do not cost the student a dime. Why? I think this is even more true for people who come from modest social backgrounds; once you've been changed by college and left your parents' world behind, you don't want to go back to what you see as the drab world outside. If I had decided to leave (and many in my program did), I would have still taken these marketable tools and contacts with me to my next job. There were no lecture halls, no lectures even. This amounts to $34,312 a year, guaranteed for five years and pretty easy to extend for seven. I hope to enter a doctorate program in my 30s. We want to hear what you think about this article. Those job markets are always poor, no matter the state of the economy, because they are always hopelessly overcrowded with the overly hopeful. If most PhD programs admitted only as many students as could get TT jobs, they'd accept hardly any new grad students. I am just as comfortable writing MA dissertations for health studies or psychology as I am compiling a PhD proposal in international relations; writing undergraduate essays on English literature, politics, philosophy, history, sociology or film studies; proofreading biology briefs; editing sociology dissertations...or creating a business and marketing presentation. William Pannapacker has published, over the last several years, a number of widely influential pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education and, this past week, in Slate, criticizing the ethics and economics of graduate programs in the humanities. Some of them can end up, for example, in advertising of all places. Most PhD students in my class did. I have a BA in history and MFA in creative writing. My advisor worked hard for me. A dear friend of mine is over $250k in debt to finish her doctorate in music, and I can’t imagine how she will ever live a normal life with that type of debt. 1. More easy loan money, legitimately postponed (un)employment, studying something you love, keeping your undergrad loans in grace... it's not the worst deal. Since the 1930s, Ph.D.s in the humanities have consistently pursued a mix of academic and non-academic career paths with unemployment rates that have always been significantly below the national average. Other times people make jokes asking "Why do so many homeless people know about Nietzsche?" A long and fervent commitment to completing a large body of work, as well as navigating complex information, and applying negotiation and problem-solving skills in a literary area, are just some of the reasons PhDs are looked upon favourably for publishing jobs. I went to college. DH had a IEE mentor for a while, helped him with jobhunting. There are fewer of you and you’re more likely to be older, with previous employment and life experience to draw on. Waived tuition fees It may not be much, but I am privileged enough not to need much, and I'm not accruing extra debt in the process. The absoulute best and hands down go to for any History or Politics paper! Here are my anecdotal conclusions: They go to grad school because as an undergrad they loved the subject, truly loved it, and got a glimpse of what it would be like to develop real expertise. We ALL apply the critical thinking skills, writing skills, knowledge organization training, and other types of training we acquired in graduate school. They're making money and churning out more PhDs to perpetuate the academy while keeping aspiring profs clawing for adjunct spots. I'm an academic chameleon. During college, I would look around at my classmates in frustration and shame. I don't care about that; I care about doing *this.*. I put a little piece of myself into every job packet. In fact, if your job prospects are poor anyway, going to school to study what you love while earning a subsistence wage and free health insurance may not seem like a terrible decision, even if you eventually end up working outside of your field. This is my story. Some of them follow a track where they get their undergrad degree, find that their job prospects are zero, and then deal with the problem by staying in school. For young people (aged 25-34) in the US, the unemployment rate of those with a humanities degree is 4%. Amazing work every time. 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