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Schools Nationwide Reducing PhD Admissions

posted by Christopher Howard — Mar 31, 2009

Top research schools nationwide—including Emory University, Columbia University, Brown University, and the University of South Carolina—are reducing admissions to their PhD programs. Because of the recession, reports Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed, “some universities’ doctoral classes will be taking a significant hit, with potential ramifications down the road for the academic job market, the availability of teaching assistants, and the education of new professors.”

Reining in stipends and fellowships is one leading factor for limiting admissions, as is the need to cut program budgets. Some believe things will return to normal when the economy picks up, but the recent breadth of graduates compared with a shrinking labor market and dearth of teaching jobs may see admission reductions stay.

In related news, Fay Hansen of Workforce Management analyzes recent surveys by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute and about hiring statistics and practices for freshly minted undergraduates, which “reflect a long-term trend toward producing more college graduates than labor markets can absorb.”

The article—which describes the current situation where “1.5 million undergraduates [who] will receive their bachelor’s degrees this year . . . will collide with 1.85 million workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher who are currently unemployed”—is far from encouraging. Some findings include:

  • Some companies are retreating from hiring experienced candidates in favor of new college graduates, “primarily because of costs”
  • The disparity between undergraduate majors and available jobs has been exacerbated by the recession. For example, 83,297 students graduated with visual and performing art degrees, and 88,134 in psychology, but only 67,045 and 47,480 students received degrees in engineering and computer and information sciences, respectively. The mismatch continues at the graduate level, with humanities master’s degrees earned outnumbering those in sciences
  • Recruiters are pressuring for direct access to professors about the best students, bypassing schools’ own career-services programs

Most troubling for art and art history is that 6 percent of those employers surveyed by are seeking liberal arts and humanities graduates, compared to 36 percent for engineering and 18 percent for computer science.

Filed under: Education, Workforce