This post, published by Deb Werrlein in Inside Higher Ed takes a provocative look at the idea of following your passion as a reason for pursuing a Ph.D. in the Humanities in a time when very few successful Ph.D. recipients will find jobs in academia.
Given the dismal academic job market described by numerous writers, you’d think humanities Ph.D. programs would have shuttered their doors, boarded up their windows and hung a sign on the front entrance that reads, “Out of Business.”
On the contrary, a recent Inside Higher Ed article shows the number of humanities Ph.D.s rising by over 500 graduates between 2010 and 2012.
Why haven’t humanities students scattered like rats fleeing a sinking ship?
I earned my Ph.D. in English in 2004, and on average, I competed with 400 other applicants for each job I failed to get during my three years on the market. I understood I’d face these grim prospects during graduate school, but I told myself they didn’t matter. I told myself I studied for the sake of my love for the subject, not for the sake of a job.
Are today’s graduate students also on the passion track?
I wonder because for me, it wasn’t true. Passion lured me through the door, but something else bolted that door behind me.