On the Poor Job Market for History Ph.D. Grads

Someone I know recently shared this report from Inside Higher Ed on the current job market for history Ph.D.s (emphasis mine):

“In history, the situation may be especially challenging for new Ph.D.s, because their numbers have continued to grow as the market has become so tight.

“Notably, for the first time in 41 years, the number of jobs advertised with the AHA fell below half the number of Ph.D.s conferred in the previous year. Approximately 1,183 new Ph.D.s were conferred in history in the 2013-14 academic year,” says the report on the jobs data, written by Robert B. Townsend, who oversees the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Humanities Indicators Project, and Julia Brookins, special projects coordinator at the AHA.”

Okay, this was all very well and depressing, though I entered grad school with no illusions about the current challenging conditions of academic work. There was a glimmer of hope at the end, though:

“Areas where there are proportionately more jobs than are reflected in the new Ph.D. pool are Asian history (9 percent of listings and 6.6 percent of new Ph.D.s) and African history (4.4 percent of listings and 2.7 percent of new Ph.D.s).”

What I find amazing is that 55.9% of new history graduates study Euro-American history. For all the advances this field has made in inclusiveness and global-mindedness over the years, it’s still a pretty conservative field. I guess it was something I didn’t realize during my undergraduate years when I was still an East Asian Studies major.

Posted on: February 6, 2016, by : Q.Z.