With more PhD students they can do more research, and in some countries more teaching, with less money. Indeed, the production of PhDs has far outstripped demand for university lecturers.
In a recent book, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, an academic and a journalist, report that America produced more than , doctoral degrees between and In the same period there were just 16, new professorships. Using PhD students to do much of the undergraduate teaching cuts the number of full-time jobs.
Even in Canada, where the output of PhD graduates has grown relatively modestly, universities conferred 4, doctorate degrees in but hired just 2, new full-time professors. Only a few fast-developing countries, such as Brazil and China, now seem short of PhDs. A short course in supply and demand In research the story is similar.
There is a glut of postdocs too. The rise of the postdoc has created another obstacle on the way to an academic post. In some areas five years as a postdoc is now a prerequisite for landing a secure full-time job. Yet that is not always a good thing. Brilliant, well-trained minds can go to waste when fashions change. The post-Sputnik era drove the rapid growth in PhD physicists that came to an abrupt halt as the Vietnam war drained the science budget.
Brian Schwartz, a professor of physics at the City University of New York, says that in the s as many as 5, physicists had to find jobs in other areas. Student teachers in public universities such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison formed unions as early as the s, but the pace of unionisation has increased recently.
Unions are now spreading to private universities; though Yale and Cornell, where university administrators and some faculty argue that PhD students who teach are not workers but apprentices, have resisted union drives. In some countries, such as Britain and America, poor pay and job prospects are reflected in the number of foreign-born PhD students.
Foreign students tend to tolerate poorer working conditions, and the supply of cheap, brilliant, foreign labour also keeps wages down. It can even reduce earnings Proponents of the PhD argue that it is worthwhile even if it does not lead to permanent academic employment.
Not every student embarks on a PhD wanting a university career and many move successfully into private-sector jobs in, for instance, industrial research. That is true; but drop-out rates suggest that many students become dispirited. Worse still, whereas in other subject areas students tend to jump ship in the early years, in the humanities they cling like limpets before eventually falling off. And these students started out as the academic cream of the nation.
Research at one American university found that those who finish are no cleverer than those who do not. Poor supervision, bad job prospects or lack of money cause them to run out of steam.
Even graduates who find work outside universities may not fare all that well. PhD courses are so specialised that university careers offices struggle to assist graduates looking for jobs, and supervisors tend to have little interest in students who are leaving academia.
Many were postdocs. Why might they follow a non-thesis track? Also, if the students want to focus on careers where research and writing have a strong focus, the students opt for the thesis option.
Research assistantships at the graduate level are also more often available to students who opt for the thesis option. A student who might feel that writing is not one of their strengths might choose to go the non-thesis track. Likewise, a student who has other work commitments may find a non-thesis option more convenient. Do you have any tips for deciding on a program? I chose a thesis option because being able to conduct independent research was a big reason to go to graduate school.
Also, showing the ability that I could do research was what afforded me research assistantships which meant that my tuition was paid for and I got a stipend that paid for expenses while I was in graduate school. This also allowed me the opportunity to work closely with the faculty mentor that provided me with the support and the accountability I wanted. I would not recommend taking a non-thesis option if all the degree requires is for you to take courses.
You have little to show in terms of your learning other than your grades unless you are already working on something on the side that does that for you and all you need is a certificate. Opt for a non-thesis option if you can still work closely with a professor or on a project and if you'd rather be involved in multiple projects rather than focus on a single project. If you already have a good informed reason for choosing one over the other, go for it.
What's the most important thing to consider when choosing a program? The most important thing to consider when choosing a program is getting excited about the projects that at least one of the faculty members are involved in.
Do some research and see why you are excited about a particular work that at least one of the faculty members have been involved in. Who should students talk to when considering options?
Students should talk to other students and also reach out directly to the graduate coordinator and even individual faculty members. This means that students should have done prior homework and have some good questions ready. How to decide which degree is right for you? Figuring out whether to pursue a master's or PhD will depend on your career field and educational goals.
You can learn more about requirements in your field by doing some research or your own as well as networking with colleagues. Reaching out to a mentor in the field or alumni from your preferred program can also help you navigate graduate school decisions. Additionally, speaking with admissions staff at graduate schools can help provide insight into the kinds of graduate programming available.
It can be tricky to offer general guidance on graduate programs since so much is dependent on the field of study. If your long term goal is to take on a leadership role in a nonprofit or business enterprise, the MBA or nonprofit management degree may be best.
This can be at lab-group meetings, conferences and so on.
Many students say they are pursuing their subject out of love, and that education is an end in itself. Aim to publish your research. At this level they will be expected to develop a critical analysis that goes beyond the synthesised reviews typically offered in undergraduate studies. So, a thesis will contain extensive citations and references to earlier work, although the focus remains on the original work that comes out of it. Scientists can easily get stipends, and therefore drift into doing a PhD. Forget to research alternatives to writing a thesis.
Unions are now spreading to private universities; though Yale and Cornell, where university administrators and some faculty argue that PhD students who teach are not workers but apprentices, have resisted union drives. Helping your supervisor to help you is key.
Scientists can easily get stipends, and therefore drift into doing a PhD. Dos and Don'ts of Choosing a Thesis or Non-thesis Program Do Consider the longevity of your decision: will you feel the same in years or are you making a decision based on current desires? In one study of British PhD graduates, about a third admitted that they were doing their doctorate partly to go on being a student, or put off job hunting. Figuring out how to proceed on this front requires lots of careful consideration, and learners should ensure they consider various aspects before coming to a final decision. Going in with a game plan can help you feel more confident and settled about the process than if you're scrambling for a topic while in school.
Both the PhD and MPhil require a more sophisticated research agenda, which will rely heavily on independent field research or unique text-based research. An effort that takes years of your life surely deserves better treatment than this.
How to decide which degree is right for you? The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. A short course in supply and demand In research the story is similar. Guest posts are encouraged. Attend departmental seminars and lab-group meetings, even or especially when the topic is not your area of expertise.
Here, I have curated a list of advice from current PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from the Department of Zoology at my institution, the University of Oxford, UK, to aid new graduate students. Invest time in literature reviews.
Organize your work and workspace. One female student spoke of being told of glowing opportunities at the outset, but after seven years of hard slog she was fobbed off with a joke about finding a rich husband. Ask them questions about their decision-making process and if they regret their choice. If a student wished to advance further in academia he could pursue a dissertation. Many were postdocs. Invest time in literature reviews.
Student teachers in public universities such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison formed unions as early as the s, but the pace of unionisation has increased recently. He would read his thesis to his committee, after which he sat in silence while two faculty members gave point by point refutations of everything he said. However, Masters students are still expected to provide original writing and critical analysis. Present your research.
Celebrate your successes and enjoy yourself. Complete a thesis simply because you think it will look good on your resume.