Grad Placement and the Job Market
|This week I calculated my department's job placement record for recent PhDs and found that, for the years 2000-2005, about 75% of our PhDs received a tenure-track job offer within three years of getting their degree. And that figure is probably a bit low, since those graduating in 2003 and after have not yet had the full three years since degree, so I expect it will rise to about 80%. That seems awfully good to me, considering that some proportion of those who did not receive a TT job offer did not particularly want one for one reason or another, and stopped searching: a few took jobs as deans, or librarians, or left academia altogether. So that probably leaves only about 15% of all those who got PhDs from our department between 2000 and 2005 who weren't able to land a TT job despite their best efforts.|
Now, ours is not a "top 10" department, though we are a good department and, in fact, are probably better than you might think from our name. Still, we aren't Harvard, Berkeley, Columbia, Penn, Yale, &c. Our grad students generally teach 2 courses a semester. And yet over that five-year span about four of every five of our PhDs got TT jobs pretty quickly after getting their degree.
I know the job market is tough, and certainly these jobs were mainly at "teaching-focused" schools (some of our PhDs prefer those jobs), but I think that some of the nightmarish talk that surrounds the job market in our profession comes from faculty at "top-tier" schools who simply don't recognize many of the jobs that are actually out there as "real" jobs. That is, when they talk about how hard it is to get "a job" these days, what they mean is "a research job of the sort that I would want." And since those faculty have disproportionately loud voices in the profession--in journals like PMLA and Profession; in training the future faculty at departments like my own; and in those periodic stories about academia in the mainstream media--that nightmarish discourse spreads. Which leaves grad students in our department with a mistaken impression of their real chances on the market, even though they are not expecting or in many cases hoping to get a job at an R1 University.
I don't know how our placement figures compare to other schools (though I'd be surprised if we were outperforming our peer institutions by very much if any). I'm not saying that 80% of all PhDs get TT jobs within three years of degree. And doing the same calculations but expanding the pool to 1995-2005 lowers our placement rate to about 65%; no doubt this is because around 2000 we got an influx of money that allowed us to expand graduate fellowships and reduce their teaching load so that most grads get a year off to write their diss.
But I'm wondering how much of the rhetoric that surrounds the job market has a hidden academic-class agenda behind it, one that basically refuses to acknowledge the vast majority of faculty positions as "jobs."
Am I way off on this?