III-22a: Occupational Distribution of Ph.D.’s,* Humanities and All Fields Combined, 2015

* Employed at any time (full- or part-time) in the previous five years.
** See the provided crosswalk for information regarding the occupations included in this category.

Source: National Science Foundation, 2015 National Survey of College Graduates. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (

This analysis includes humanities graduates who are (or were in the previous five years) employed full- or part-time. Since the humanities were dropped from the biennial Survey of Doctorate Recipients in 1995, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) is the only source of nationally representative data on the occupations and earnings of humanities Ph.D.’s. Conducted every two years, the NSCG gathers detailed education, occupation, and earnings information from a sample of individuals drawn from the larger pool of all those people identified via the American Community Survey (ACS) as holders of a baccalaureate degree. The NSF makes NSCG data available to researchers and the general public via downloadable data files and its online data analysis tool, SESTAT. Given the size of the NSCG sample, reliable estimates are available only for broad academic fields.

For the NSCG disciplinary categories included in each of the field-of-degree categories employed by the Humanities Indicators, see the provided crosswalk, which also indicates which types of jobs are included in each of the broad occupational categories used for this analysis.

These occupation-related indicators are based on NSCG data, but similar items included in the Humanities Indicators rely on data from the ACS. Due to marked differences in how NSCG and ACS classify academic fields and occupations, the contents of the field-of-degree and occupational categories used for this indicator are not identical to those used for the ACS-based Indicators III-03a, 03b, and 05b. (For more information on the contents of the categories used for the ACS analysis, see the pertinent crosswalk.) 

Another key difference between these indicators and the ACS-based occupation-related indicators is that the Ph.D. holders considered here are those whose doctoral degree was in the humanities (irrespective of the field of their undergraduate and any terminal master’s degree). The ACS does not collect data about the fields in which advanced degrees were earned. The ACS-based indicators thus describe the occupational distribution of undergraduate humanities majors who went on to pursue advanced degrees, regardless of the field of the advanced degree. 

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