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Author Topic: Most demand PhD fields? (most marketable in and out of academia)  (Read 22556 times)
john1990
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« on: April 30, 2012, 11:41:20 PM »

I was recently discussing this with some friends and thought I would expand the discussion to all of you here at the Chronicle Forums, since we weren't getting anywhere. I also think this thread might yield some good nuggets of wisdom for those of us young and plotting our way to graduate school.

For those with interdisciplinary interests and a desire for doctoral education that supersedes the exact field, what do you think are the most in-demand PhDs?

I'm curious about the answer to this question, both/either in regards to what can still get you a job as a faculty member, and what will still provide you with "alternative" opportunities in the non-academic marketplace?

My friends and I said accounting and nursing are in-demand in academia. We also had a sense that the "administrations" (business administration, higher education administration, healthcare administration, public administration, maybe others) are highly marketable for those with broad social science skills and are flexible about the exact industry they want to apply those skills.

Interesting that the ones we identified (right or wrong, feel free to disagree with us) are all pre-professional...any liberal arts left standing?

What is your guys' take?

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octoprof
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 11:49:59 PM »

These are two different markets. Some PhDs are uber marketable in academia (accounting, nursing)  but not so much in industry. Note that for these two fields a PhD is not needed to be highly marketable in industry.

Some fields are marketable in both (economics, perhaps; some sciences). Some are not very marketable in academia but quite valuable to industry (can't think of example?).

"Business administration" is too generic. Most "business" PhDs are in a specific field or even subfield (management, human resource management, etc.). Business, HE admin, public admin and healthcare admin are a pretty diverse set and not all comparable, for sure. I have no idea about the markets for most of those, though.

I also have no idea what you mean here by pre-professional. How can a PhD be pre-professional?

My guys have no take, but that's my take.
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dirce
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2012, 2:22:21 AM »



I also have no idea what you mean here by pre-professional. How can a PhD be pre-professional?



I think he used that term to describe areas that were linked to a specific career, like nursing, business, etc., as opposed to an area like philosophy, for which there is no defined "profession". He used the term "liberal arts" but perhaps he really meant "humanities" ....
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heynonnynonnymouse
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2012, 2:25:42 AM »

I can see picking a specialty within a field to improve one's marketability, but saying, "I want a PhD of some kind, what kind is best?" seems...off, to me. Why would you dedicate 4 to 6 years of your life for a credential without having any real interest in the subject matter?
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juillet
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2012, 4:28:17 AM »

If we are talking about this in purely theoretical terms, in my field both epidemiology and biostatistics are pretty marketable both inside and outside of academia.  Biostatistics moreso.

Environmental health seems to be pretty marketable, too.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 4:29:31 AM by juillet » Logged
klaradeb
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2012, 5:19:05 AM »

Within academia, accounting and finance are both good bets with a lot of competition for talents. The money's usually pretty good in both cases. I know people doing interdisciplinary research in those fields (e.g. studying behavioral aspects.)

A PhD in finance doesn't hurt outside of academia either.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 5:20:12 AM by klaradeb » Logged
zharkov
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2012, 5:47:08 AM »


STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) isn't too bad, but depends on one's field and area of research, and for industry, willingness to relocate in the areas of the country where employees are most in demand.

I can see picking a specialty within a field to improve one's marketability, but saying, "I want a PhD of some kind, what kind is best?" seems...off, to me. Why would you dedicate 4 to 6 years of your life for a credential without having any real interest in the subject matter?

On my view, a minimum of "interest" would be necessary, but perhaps not "passion."  I suspect many of us gravitated toward this or that field based on success in coursework early in college, even in HS, developed a sort of "passion," which may or may not have served us well --  considering the job market solely.

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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2012, 5:58:31 AM »

For those with interdisciplinary interests and a desire for doctoral education that supersedes the exact field, what do you think are the most in-demand PhDs?

I'm curious about the answer to this question, both/either in regards to what can still get you a job as a faculty member, and what will still provide you with "alternative" opportunities in the non-academic marketplace?

In terms of getting a job as a faculty member, both search committees and accrediting agencies still take a very narrow view of what makes someone "qualified" for a position. If a faculty position is your goal, then to a certain extent I think you need to play the game and get a PhD in a traditional discipline that will satisfy both SCs and acccreditors -- then, from there, expand what you do to include your other interests. I am very interdisciplinary, but found that there was no existing doctoral program of any repute whatsoever that would specifically foster that. It usually works better to have a piece of paper in a particular specialization, get a job, and then wiggle your butt around in the job until it accommodates your other interests (a la Homer Simpson).

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youllneverwalkalone
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2012, 10:09:08 AM »

Where I live (Scandinavia), a PhD in medicine can count as a professional qualification (a Msc in medicine makes you a general practicioner, then writing a PhD in e.g. hearth diseases can make you a certified cardiologist). That is quite a unique example in which a PhD actually clearly adds value with regards to your qualifications and overall employability.

In some applied field (e.g. food science and technology), PhDs are very appreciated by industry, and it is also relatively frequent to switch back and forth between these industry and academia during one's career.

STEM fields in general seems to be quite balanced in terms of industry vs. academic marketability, although often in very unpredictable ways (you would wonder how many PhD in physics work in the banking industry).

A PhD in social sciences and humanities is only useful if you aim at staying in academia, otherwise imHo it closes more doors than it opens.
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pigou
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2012, 10:41:14 AM »

A PhD in social sciences and humanities is only useful if you aim at staying in academia, otherwise imHo it closes more doors than it opens.
This is definitely not true for economics, where a PhD is required for just about any position where you can call yourself an economist (with the exception of TV commentator). Demand outside academia is greater for Macroeconomists than Microeconomists, so it's certainly sub-field specific. For someone interested in interdisciplinary work, economics and psychology is a combination that seems to be in favor in both the private sector (facebook, google) as well as at business schools. Somewhat less so in traditional economics departments, from what I have seen. Of course that could easily change by the time someone finishes her PhD.
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octoprof
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2012, 11:44:44 AM »

I can see picking a specialty within a field to improve one's marketability, but saying, "I want a PhD of some kind, what kind is best?" seems...off, to me. Why would you dedicate 4 to 6 years of your life for a credential without having any real interest in the subject matter?

I agree it seems off.

I attending a meeting yesterday about the AACSB (that's the major accreditor of business schools) Bridge programs that train (in a short period of time, for a lot of money) folks who already have non-business PhDs to be "academically qualified" in a business field. Several of the folks who have completed the program for accounting, had an accounting degree or a CPA certificate in their past but chose to pursue doctoral studies in other fields. So... now they want to teach/research accounting (hello high salary!)? If they really loved accounting, why didn't they do the PhD in that in the first place? I do realize, of course, that many life factors may have intervened in this decision in the past... but still.

A PhD in social sciences and humanities is only useful if you aim at staying in academia, otherwise imHo it closes more doors than it opens.
This is definitely not true for economics, where a PhD is required for just about any position where you can call yourself an economist (with the exception of TV commentator). Demand outside academia is greater for Macroeconomists than Microeconomists, so it's certainly sub-field specific. For someone interested in interdisciplinary work, economics and psychology is a combination that seems to be in favor in both the private sector (facebook, google) as well as at business schools. Somewhat less so in traditional economics departments, from what I have seen. Of course that could easily change by the time someone finishes her PhD.

pigou is right about economists, for sure.
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 2:36:05 PM »

If it's all about practicality, learn a "critical language" before entering grad school. Yes, it may take a few years, but it's worth it. Use it as your primary research language in a humanities field (religion, history, etc.). There are usually back up options if you decide against the academic route. My husband and I were both trained in a critical language (for random reasons, not related to the fact that it is now 'critical') and we've been recruited quite a bit. We aren't interested in the least, but whatever floats your boat. I'm in the humanities, by the way, so I'm experiencing the same tight job market as everyone. But, in discussing the market with faculty here, there's not one person in our department in the last five years who hasn't gotten a TT job (excluding those who wanted to go outside of academia).

Anecdotal: We have a corresponding MA program here. My friend and I both taught "Joe" who, to put it nicely, fared just below average in language classes. Joe is now very handsomely compensated (more than I could ever dream of) as the head of a startup "[insert language] teaching program" in [Big City] public school system. This is with an MA.
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lohai0
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 2:43:00 PM »

Pure math is actually pretty glutted. Math ed has negative unemployment. Applied Statistics people are always in demand.
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bcohlan1
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2012, 2:52:04 PM »

STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) isn't too bad, but depends on one's field and area of research, and for industry, willingness to relocate in the areas of the country where employees are most in demand.

Fun fact: STEM does not mean what I thought it meant!
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octoprof
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2012, 2:55:00 PM »

STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) isn't too bad, but depends on one's field and area of research, and for industry, willingness to relocate in the areas of the country where employees are most in demand.

Fun fact: STEM does not mean what I thought it meant!

What did you think it meant?
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