ConclusionBack to table of contents
Examining broad trends in humanities graduate education offers important insights into emerging patterns in who is earning the degree, some of the practices in graduate programs, and the outcomes for those who have already earned degrees in the field. But the available data leave many questions unanswered. For instance, it is not clear how the drop in job ads at the scholarly societies and the dip in the estimated number of faculty can be reconciled with the substantial, but comparatively modest decline in new humanities PhDs with job commitments in academia. And the data cannot tell us where these trends might be headed in the future. For instance, will the number of master’s degrees continue to decline in the field, and, if they do, what are the implications for the viability of graduate programs that do not offer a PhD? Similarly, what will become of doctoral programs in the field if the path into traditional academic occupations remains narrow? Given the median seven-year time to PhD, it is challenging for anyone entering a PhD program to anticipate improvements or declines in the academic job market. We cannot put the trends on a balance sheet and calculate the risks and rewards for anyone entering a graduate program or advising a student thinking about entering one, but we hope this report can offer a clear-eyed view of the trends as they exist and some perspective for those who are preparing students and programs for the future.