Is this the end of the PhD as we know it?

A very scary, yet eye openning, article appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education recently. The article, which is titled “The Future of the Ph.D.” discusses the downfall of the coveted tenure faculty position, and how only 30 percent of of the teaching faculty are tenured and tenure-track academics.

The author also highlights the dismal plight of female graduate students who dare to succumb to their maternal instincts during the course of their graduate studies.

The article finishes with the thought provoking question “Is the Ph.D. worth saving?”

I’m not sure. How about you?

Be sure to check out the full article here.

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8 Responses to “Is this the end of the PhD as we know it?”

  1. John says:

    I have been in the field of Higher Education in small university. First; I would like to salute those students and faculty members those who do an excellent job in training future Ph.Ds and performing excellent research and their publication records speak for themselves. My comments should not misunderstood here since I am going to be very critical of Ph.D program and its students. I am hoping my oberservation represents a small percentage not majority.

    The problems our nation is facing in Higher Education is multifactorial total failure of good system which produced tremendously genius and talented Ph.Ds. However, most tenured faculty become lazy, arrogant, wasting resources and time of our future generations. Our graduate students today do not have the commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm to reach the stars, rather get stipend, have fun, do nothing and get sub standard Ph.D which enables them to do nothing. They don’t know how to teach, they can not design an experiment, they can not evern write their own dissertation. We are experiencing a shortage of Anatomy faculty in the school of medicine for a while, yet same medical school Ph.D studnets do not want to take Gross Anatomy and learn teaching skills. Some of the Ph.Ds have such heavy accents that students can not grasp a single spoken word. We have lowered our admission standards, increased stipends, receive low output from these students,that boils down to “uneducated, uncivilized Ph.D degree holders.” We need to reevaluate our programs and have some centalized guidelines to meet the future challenges to be competitive.

    Don’t get upset I said I salute some of the mentors/students/faculty members who are doing superb job, but they are very few.

    • avi_wener says:

      John, I’m not so sure laziness is the problem as much as the admission of too many students with too few academic positions available down the line. Perhaps the real solution is to help more students get postdoc positions in industry where they will earn their keep and add value to the economy. I value higher education, but if everyone becomes a teacher, who are the students? Some very good research is conducted in the non-academic world. Why don’t we encourage more students to become industrial players?

  2. Jordan says:

    Totally agree with the need to limit graduate enrollment. Not sure how you could accomplish that though

    • avi_wener says:

      Jordan, I’m not sure I understand your comment. Doesn’t medical school and law school etc limit enrollment? Why couldn’t grad school do the same? Or, perhaps schools can create two different streams: an academic stream and an industrial stream. The academic stream would be limited by the number of tenured and non-tenured positions available down the line (plus an additonal 20-30% for those who drop out) and the industrial stream can be much bigger as industry is driven by supply and demand.

  3. PhD says:

    I would never ever, never ever encourage anyone in my family to pursue a silly and stupid Ph.D..

  4. Dave says:

    Enrollment cannot go down because the “business” model that is now modern collegiate academics is to produce numbers and not scientists. In some sad way this what many departments have to do to continue building their programs because the administration doesn’t care if a department produces one to two quality scientists. They want validation for budget allocations that essentially boil down to a dog & pony show. This makes the measure of a programs success equating to the number of graduate degrees produced each year and not the quality and future success of the scientists they are training. Also break down in time the amount of hours you put into research, grant writing, teaching, mentoring, grading, reviewing, editing etc…. on a weekly basis and ask yourself are you fairly compensated for your time versus other careers.

  5. agnes says:

    I fully agree with John. My comment: the quality of Ph.Ds reflect the quality of the whole nation. America is a mess, American education is a mess, American Ph.D program is a mess. Why to expect devotion, hard work and morality after Ph.Ds who come from the nation devoid of the above?

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