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Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation

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ipmit@yahoo.com

Not in my field!

The author clearly overgeneralizes the job market problems in his field of expertise to other areas of the arts and sciences. At no point does he use data or present anything but anecdotal evidence and historical background. The truth is that in some areas of science, such as mathematics, newly minted PhDs have no problem gaining employment. In fact, I know a number of former faculty members who left academia (having gained tenure track appointments) to become quants, but none who were forced to leave. The American Mathematical Society typically gives over 85 percent employment within a year from graduation, and that includes the bottom graduate programs—the percentage is close to 100 percent for the schools on the level of Yale and Columbia that author mentions.

Same with the length of the PhD studies. I personally finished in three years, graduated from the top university and am now employed (as a tenured full professor) at another. About four to five years is more typical—perhaps six years in the bottom quintile of the graduate programs. But seven years is way too much and nine years is inconceivable. I wish the author had chosen to clarify this in the article rather than to scare witless all prospective graduate students.