The PhD factory

April 27, 2011 at 8:03 am 5 comments

This article from Nature has been leading to a lot of discussions where I’m at.  It relates to the CRA’s call for more discussion about post-docs.  Are we producing too many PhDs?  Or should we preparing more PhD’s for non-academic jobs?

In some countries, including the United States and Japan, people who have trained at great length and expense to be researchers confront a dwindling number of academic jobs, and an industrial sector unable to take up the slack. Supply has outstripped demand and, although few PhD holders end up unemployed, it is not clear that spending years securing this high-level qualification is worth it for a job as, for example, a high-school teacher. In other countries, such as China and India, the economies are developing fast enough to use all the PhDs they can crank out, and more — but the quality of the graduates is not consistent. Only a few nations, including Germany, are successfully tackling the problem by redefining the PhD as training for high-level positions in careers outside academia.

via Education: The PhD factory : Nature News.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bonnie MacKellar  |  April 27, 2011 at 8:07 am

    At small teaching oriented schools, I still see CS faculty being hired at the MS level, or in fields other than CS because the schools feel they can’t get CS PhDs. Perhaps CS PhDs need to consider schools other than the research oriented ones. That has been true in other fields for years.

    Reply
  • 2. Mike Byrne  |  April 27, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Most of my Ph.D.s have gone into industry; however, most of them also intended to do so when they entered the Ph.D. program. And, of course, my Ph.D.s are not in CS.

    Reply
  • 3. Max Hailperin  |  April 27, 2011 at 11:33 am

    This sentence caught my attention: “Only a few nations, including Germany, are successfully tackling the problem by redefining the PhD as training for high-level positions in careers outside academia.”

    I wonder to what extent this is really a redefinition versus something that’s always been that way in Germany. My impression was that they always made quite a distinction between the doctorate and the habilitation, with only the latter being the gateway to academia, as opposed to careers elsewhere. Are there readers knowledgeable about the historical and current German situations who could provide context?

    Reply
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