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Ph.D. Placement Project

3048559779_41ca84b562_mRegular readers of the Chronicle are surely familiar with the ongoing discussion about the merits of graduate education both generally and in the humanities more specifically. Whatever your position on the “Go!Don’t Go!” debate (note: two different links), one thing is clear: more information about where Ph.D.s end up would be very helpful both to potential candidates, employers, and the professoriate more generally.

In his most recent column, William Pannapacker threw down the gauntlet, so to speak. He argued for precisely that: more information about both attrition and placement rates rather than “a scattered helping of infrequently updated best-case scenarios” that is “externally verifiable and reasonably comprehensive.”

The Chronicle has accepted this challenge. It has founded “The Ph.D. Placement Project,” which is a web-based, crowd-sourced attempt to answer the following questions:

We would like to figure out a way to gather reliable data about job placements for Ph.D.’s. Who’s getting jobs? Where are they? Which doctoral programs are doing well at placing their Ph.D.’s in tenure-track positions? Which are doing poorly? Are many colleges making an effort to help their Ph.D.’s land nonacademic jobs?

For this project to work, it needs data both about those who finish and land tenure-track positions (many universities make this information available already) as well as about those who don’t. There is an anonymous survey that you can fill out, which asks basic questions like “When did you receive your degree?” “What is your field?” and “Does your Ph.D.-granting university or department offer data on job placement of its Ph.D.’s?” Filling it out takes maybe a few minutes.

In addition to helping gather data, the Chronicle is looking for suggestions about how to collect and publish this data in a way that will be meaningful and useful to its readers. If you have ideas, email them to: PhDPlacement@chronicle.com.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Kirby Umer.]

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