Stale Ph.D.'s Need Not Apply

Recent job ads reveal a bias, critics say: Search committees aren't interested if your degree is more than a few years old


Matthew Ryan Williams for The Chronicle

Candidates interviewed for jobs at the MLA's 2012 annual meeting. Were those who earned their Ph.D.'s more than three years earlier at a disadvantage?

When Harvard University and Colorado State University recently posted job ads indicating that applicants should be very recent recipients of Ph.D.'s, many people saw the ads as confirmation of something they already suspected about the unspoken hiring preferences for entry-level positions in the humanities.

Search committees, say professors and leaders of scholarly associations, strongly favor applicants whose degrees are not more than two or three years old.

Two weeks ago,