Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

The Overselling of the Ph.D.


David Kopel writes:

Louis Menand’s new article The Ph.D. Problem: On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal [is a good reason to be glad you went to law school instead]. Cliff Notes version: the academy (the tenured folks who run things) have every incentive to take in huge numbers of Ph.D. candidates, and turn them into ABD drones to teach undergraduates — even though about half of them will never finish the Ph.D. program, and half of those that do finish will never get a tenure-track job. The result is the over-production of Ph.D.‘s who are highly specialized but who are not very good at doing the things that universities should foster (e.g., teaching to non-specialists, intellectually engaging with the world outside the academy). The hyper-specialization puts non-tenured people (including Ph.D. candidates, and young teachers) at the mercy of the rigid political correctness of the tenured folks. Ten years of time invested in getting a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature leaves you with almost no job choices in your field, if you get blackballed for non-p.c. attitudes.


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