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Travails of the PhD

The PhDs being discussed here are those in the humanities but the points apply mutatis mutandis to those in the exact sciences as well.

http://theprofessorisin.com/2014/01/13/who-is-us-thoughts-on-the-mla/

Professional suicide is what graduate students are already committing on a daily basis as they confront the reality of a Ph.D. that cannot be turned into meaningful work, and the looming default on what are often hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans.

Professional suicide is what adjuncts are committing each year that they spill out their time, energy, and spirit in an endless, pointless and ultimately fruitless quest for security.

Professional suicide is what Ph.D.s contemplate when they have to painfully and laboriously attempt to reinvent themselves for a non-academic position, for which the Ph.D. is appallingly expensive, slow, and imprecise training, when they are already often in their mid-40s or beyond.

Professional suicide is what Ph.D.s face when they discover ten or more years of their peak earning years have been lost in the black hole of a graduate program that yields nothing in the end but devastating opportunity costs.
 
Aren't huge loans only US specialty? For International PhD Students that is usually not the case.
 
Foreign PhD students in the US almost invariably have teaching assistantships and I think so do US students (at least in the sciences). But the academic job market is changing beyond all recognition -- few tenure-track openings and red-hot competition for the few that there are, teaching moving on-line, declining funding. My guess is that in the West, institutional science will more or less cease to exist in the decades to come and the post-WW2 expansion of institutional science and universities will be seen as an anomaly, an aberration.
 
How about a PhD in computational statistics or computational math & engineering? Isn't there huge demand everywhere (not academia) for those graduates?
 
How about a PhD in computational statistics or computational math & engineering? Isn't there huge demand everywhere (not academia) for those graduates?

there are demands for highly skilled engineers and statisticians, but I think what the article is talking about is mainly the huge opportunity cost associated with getting PHD in those fields. Also I've heard and personally met few Phd's who are apparently too specialized/educated in their fields for entry level / lower level jobs and firms don't want to hire them. /shrug

I think the article is bit extreme, but some do actually have trouble landing jobs whether in academia or in private sector after Phd.
 
I think the article is bit extreme, but some do actually have trouble landing jobs whether in academia or in private sector after Phd.

The article is about humanities PhDs -- where to nick a phrase from Dante, it really is a case of "abandon hope, all ye who enter here." The situation is probably better for PhDs in the exact sciences -- but not much. There's a huge mismatch between supply and demand. And we should keep in mind that some of the drift of exact science PhDs to finance occurred because there were no other opportunities open to them.
 
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