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Old 01-21-2010, 04:43 PM
 
Location: right here!
1,057 posts, read 1,652,692 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
The stipends are usually just enough to live a rather meeker existence while you go to school. Even if you take out no debt, there is still a big opportunity cost as you'd earn far more if you were to get out in the job market right after your bachelors. Also, after you finish your doctorate if you are unable to secure a job in academia (which is likely), then you'll be competing with people with 5~6 years of work experience in your same age group. The experience is often valued more than a higher degree.


This is certainly true. The bigger question is: does your program offer development of transferable skills that can be applied outside of academia? I have created positions for myself in the past based on my experience and credentials because I have been able to demonstrate how my educational experiences have given me real-world skills. There is the obvious: completing the terminal degree displays initiative, and perseverance. Writing well = communication skills. TA jobs are unique: one is essentially managing another person's curriculum and agenda, and is responsible for communication with undergraduates. There is communication up and down the food chain which requires diplomacy.

It sounds like "beefing up the resume", but these are real skills that are desirable in many industries.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:43 PM
 
Location: San Francisco, CA
12,437 posts, read 9,866,543 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by equinox63 View Post
Are Doctorate degrees in the Liberal Arts and the Humanities still worth it? Are they still worth the time, effort, and money in the long run? How does one make the most of it?
In a word: NO.

Not unless you want to end up paying $100ks to wait tables for a living.
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:45 AM
PYT
 
122 posts, read 243,448 times
Reputation: 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by iwonderwhy2124 View Post
Higher education is an investment - plain and simple. You are spending a lot of money, getting deeply into debt, and being charged interest on that debt all with the hope that it will lead to a more fulfilling job and more $ in your pocket when it is all said and done. Sure, it is nice to become "more well-rounded" and to "expand one's mind". But, most people go to school so that they can get a piece of paper which will enable them to not have to work at McDonald's.

I'm not obsessed with money. But, I have a serious aversion to having half of my paycheck taken away from me every month for the next 30 years (as anybody should be). Imagine trying to pay your rent, utilities, food, car insurance, trying to save for retirement, etc.. while making practically no money and having a $1,500 a month student loan payment. That quickly makes life not so much fun.

I reiterate; if it does not have a financial benefit and it will cripple your future standard of living then what the hell is the point of doing it? You can easily go to the library and learn anything you want for free anyway.
Well in a sense I agree with you and in another sense I don't.

Simply because if you are worth a damn, a reputable institution would provide a decent stipend for you. And if you are not smart enough to receive a package that you can live on, you shouldn't be pursuing the degree in the first place. You should be at least the top 5% of your graduating class if you are serious about pursuing such a degree imo.

The main thing we have to figure in is opportunity costs, however thats when other less tangible factors come into play.
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Old 01-22-2010, 04:04 AM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,476 posts, read 16,731,276 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellfire View Post
It sounds like "beefing up the resume", but these are real skills that are desirable in many industries.
You're right it does sound like "beefing up the resume". I don't think industry values TA experience and a number of other things you do in academia as much as experience in industry. Academia and private industry are just different sorts of places, people often have trouble moving from one to the other.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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I had a professor that said you don't get a PhD to make money, you get a PhD because you want to learn.
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Old 01-23-2010, 06:04 PM
 
1,503 posts, read 2,478,038 times
Reputation: 601
Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
You need to clarify your question though - are you comparing a Humanities PhD to a Humanities MA or BA? Or are you comparing a Humanities PhD to some other flavor of PhD?

Also, where are you in your career? Just finished a BA/BS degree and looking at grad school, been in the working world a while and want to go back, or what?
I'm comparing a Doctorate in Humanities to a Doctorate in other fields... or to no Doctorate at all. I'm actually a high school English teacher currently in the midst of a DAH program that will soon be converted to a PhD program. Just thinking about the opitions when i finish. The ideal situation would be a tenured professorship while a write books and lecture at various locations.

But I've been led to believe that I could make more money remaining in secondary public education (with a doctorate). I could get an administrative add-on and possibly become a high school administrator (which would be the most lucrative) but that is not necessarily what I'd love to do...
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:45 PM
 
Location: Beautiful New England
2,412 posts, read 6,245,761 times
Reputation: 3041
There's a lot of variability in the humanities and social sciences: English and Philosophy PhDs are a dime a dozen...employability is awful. Foreign language PhD's have a tough track record, too. PhDs in economics are a very different story. Political science PhDs don't do as well as economics, but are a lot better off than sociology and, say, history PhDs. Bottom line: it depends a lot on your field.

There are no guarantees, but those getting PhD's can follow a few key rules to significantly improve their employment chances:

1. Don't get your PhD from Taco Tech or Rot Gut State. You don't have to be in the Ivies, and you don't even have to get your degree from the Ivy aspirants/wannabes...a good, state flagship state U. is fine in most fields. But what you should NOT do is get your PhD from the bottom-of-the-barrel, rinky-dink schools with middling PhD programs in your field. You don't need a Mercedes or Rolls Royce PhD to get a job; a Buick or Honda PhD will work. But a Kia or Hyundai PhD will make your odds tougher.

2. Publish, publish, publish while you're in grad school. Those suit case profs with PhD's and no tenure track job very often have something in common: no (or too few) publications. You absolutely MUST publish your work, and you've got to publish quite a bit of it. What's more, you must demonstrate a research/publication "pipeline" (i.e. projects in the works/under review/forthcoming). Hiring committees will simply not hire folks with scant publications and no pipeline. So many people do not land the tenure track job because they don't get published enough.

3. Get as much teaching experience as possible in grad. school. Not just being a TA, but teaching courses as instructor of record. Teach as many different preps as possible. Yeah, it's a lot of work at first. But hiring committees want people who have some experience in the classroom lest they completely screw up (and create a mess that the department will have to clean up) when they arrive to their new jobs. What's more, diversity of teaching experience means that you can be flexible in filling department teaching needs...and most departments really like people who can plug holes here and there. You might even pick up a class or two at a local community college to get even more teaching experience and experience dealing with less stellar students. Teaching experinces is very highly prized at non-PhD granting departments (see point number 4 below), which is where most of the jobs are anyway.

4. Apply to a wide variety of departments, not just Carnegie I schools. This is something that befuddles me frequently: the graduating PhD candidate who will only apply to PhD granting departments because they have gotten so caught up in the academic snobbery business. Yes, yes...PhD granting departments are the most prestigious positions. But they offer relatively fewer positions in the grand scheme of things -- the are more jobs at the Generic State Universities of the world that there are in the big time programs. This problem is especially acute amongst PhD candidates at high prestige PhD programs ("You have a PhD from Princeton...why would you want to apply for a job at lowly Georgia Southern U. or Cal. State Long Beach?" )

I can’t tell you how many grad students I have seen who put this set of professional blinders on themselves: they apply only to the hot shot schools and (naturally) many good, bright people don't get hired. They then face two prospects:
a. They either then swallow their pride and discover that there are other schools out there that offer attractive tenure track positions, but they have been on the market a bit too long and now face tougher odds because hiring departments now wonder what's wrong with this guy/gal that they haven’t been hired yet, what are the hiding, etc. The ones that get hired usually end up pretty happy and look back and think they were foolish to limit their initial search.
or;
b. They walk away from academia entirely, usually heartbroken or very jaded. Yet many of these same people could have had a very personally rewarding and intellectually fulfilling career at a less prestigious place if they would have only given it a try. I say that such a move is like being shut out of the fanciest restaurant in town and then deciding to starve to death instead of “lowering” yourself to eat at TGIFridays. Hey, it’s a personal choice. But I know professional colleagues at the fancy and not fancy schools…there are plenty of bright and decent people who have good careers at all sorts of schools.

In some ways, I don’t feel too sorry for the people who just walk away because their willingness to abandon a career in the academy rather than take a less prestigious position is very telling about them: they are less interested in intellectual pursuit and teaching than they are in a prestige competition. Again, you find this in some of the more prestigious programs: people who are so driven to succeed that they are more interested in winning the competition than they are in the substance of the prize. These people really are misplaced: such competitive urges are better channeled in the for-profit sector, anyway.
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:51 AM
 
1,503 posts, read 2,478,038 times
Reputation: 601
Quote:
Originally Posted by equinox63 View Post
I'm comparing a Doctorate in Humanities to a Doctorate in other fields... or to no Doctorate at all. I'm actually a high school English teacher currently in the midst of a DAH program that will soon be converted to a PhD program. Just thinking about the opitions when i finish. The ideal situation would be a tenured professorship while a write books and lecture at various locations.

But I've been led to believe that I could make more money remaining in secondary public education (with a doctorate). I could get an administrative add-on and possibly become a high school administrator (which would be the most lucrative) but that is not necessarily what I'd love to do...
I guess I should fix my spelling before I start touting my English degrees. I meant "options", not "opitions". Additionally, I currently hold a BA in English, a M.Ed in English Education, and I am currently pursuing a DAH/PhD in English...
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:01 AM
 
1,503 posts, read 2,478,038 times
Reputation: 601
Quote:
Originally Posted by professorsenator View Post
There's a lot of variability in the humanities and social sciences: English and Philosophy PhDs are a dime a dozen...employability is awful. Foreign language PhD's have a tough track record, too. PhDs in economics are a very different story. Political science PhDs don't do as well as economics, but are a lot better off than sociology and, say, history PhDs. Bottom line: it depends a lot on your field.

There are no guarantees, but those getting PhD's can follow a few key rules to significantly improve their employment chances:

1. Don't get your PhD from Taco Tech or Rot Gut State. You don't have to be in the Ivies, and you don't even have to get your degree from the Ivy aspirants/wannabes...a good, state flagship state U. is fine in most fields. But what you should NOT do is get your PhD from the bottom-of-the-barrel, rinky-dink schools with middling PhD programs in your field. You don't need a Mercedes or Rolls Royce PhD to get a job; a Buick or Honda PhD will work. But a Kia or Hyundai PhD will make your odds tougher.

2. Publish, publish, publish while you're in grad school. Those suit case profs with PhD's and no tenure track job very often have something in common: no (or too few) publications. You absolutely MUST publish your work, and you've got to publish quite a bit of it. What's more, you must demonstrate a research/publication "pipeline" (i.e. projects in the works/under review/forthcoming). Hiring committees will simply not hire folks with scant publications and no pipeline. So many people do not land the tenure track job because they don't get published enough.

3. Get as much teaching experience as possible in grad. school. Not just being a TA, but teaching courses as instructor of record. Teach as many different preps as possible. Yeah, it's a lot of work at first. But hiring committees want people who have some experience in the classroom lest they completely screw up (and create a mess that the department will have to clean up) when they arrive to their new jobs. What's more, diversity of teaching experience means that you can be flexible in filling department teaching needs...and most departments really like people who can plug holes here and there. You might even pick up a class or two at a local community college to get even more teaching experience and experience dealing with less stellar students. Teaching experinces is very highly prized at non-PhD granting departments (see point number 4 below), which is where most of the jobs are anyway.

4. Apply to a wide variety of departments, not just Carnegie I schools. This is something that befuddles me frequently: the graduating PhD candidate who will only apply to PhD granting departments because they have gotten so caught up in the academic snobbery business. Yes, yes...PhD granting departments are the most prestigious positions. But they offer relatively fewer positions in the grand scheme of things -- the are more jobs at the Generic State Universities of the world that there are in the big time programs. This problem is especially acute amongst PhD candidates at high prestige PhD programs ("You have a PhD from Princeton...why would you want to apply for a job at lowly Georgia Southern U. or Cal. State Long Beach?" )

I can’t tell you how many grad students I have seen who put this set of professional blinders on themselves: they apply only to the hot shot schools and (naturally) many good, bright people don't get hired. They then face two prospects:
a. They either then swallow their pride and discover that there are other schools out there that offer attractive tenure track positions, but they have been on the market a bit too long and now face tougher odds because hiring departments now wonder what's wrong with this guy/gal that they haven’t been hired yet, what are the hiding, etc. The ones that get hired usually end up pretty happy and look back and think they were foolish to limit their initial search.
or;
b. They walk away from academia entirely, usually heartbroken or very jaded. Yet many of these same people could have had a very personally rewarding and intellectually fulfilling career at a less prestigious place if they would have only given it a try. I say that such a move is like being shut out of the fanciest restaurant in town and then deciding to starve to death instead of “lowering” yourself to eat at TGIFridays. Hey, it’s a personal choice. But I know professional colleagues at the fancy and not fancy schools…there are plenty of bright and decent people who have good careers at all sorts of schools.

In some ways, I don’t feel too sorry for the people who just walk away because their willingness to abandon a career in the academy rather than take a less prestigious position is very telling about them: they are less interested in intellectual pursuit and teaching than they are in a prestige competition. Again, you find this in some of the more prestigious programs: people who are so driven to succeed that they are more interested in winning the competition than they are in the substance of the prize. These people really are misplaced: such competitive urges are better channeled in the for-profit sector, anyway.
Great post! Thanks! But my last question is at what point does teaching on the collegiate level become more financially lucrative than teaching in secondary public education? Money is not my only concern, but I'd hate to take a serious pay cut in attaining that dream job.

I used to be concerned about job security as well, but I guess in this day and age, not even public education is a guarantee...
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:17 AM
 
Location: Space Coast
1,989 posts, read 4,381,298 times
Reputation: 2728
Quote:
Originally Posted by professorsenator View Post
There's a lot of variability in the humanities and social sciences: English and Philosophy PhDs are a dime a dozen...employability is awful. Foreign language PhD's have a tough track record, too. PhDs in economics are a very different story. Political science PhDs don't do as well as economics, but are a lot better off than sociology and, say, history PhDs. Bottom line: it depends a lot on your field.

There are no guarantees, but those getting PhD's can follow a few key rules to significantly improve their employment chances:

1. Don't get your PhD from Taco Tech or Rot Gut State. You don't have to be in the Ivies, and you don't even have to get your degree from the Ivy aspirants/wannabes...a good, state flagship state U. is fine in most fields. But what you should NOT do is get your PhD from the bottom-of-the-barrel, rinky-dink schools with middling PhD programs in your field. You don't need a Mercedes or Rolls Royce PhD to get a job; a Buick or Honda PhD will work. But a Kia or Hyundai PhD will make your odds tougher.

2. Publish, publish, publish while you're in grad school. Those suit case profs with PhD's and no tenure track job very often have something in common: no (or too few) publications. You absolutely MUST publish your work, and you've got to publish quite a bit of it. What's more, you must demonstrate a research/publication "pipeline" (i.e. projects in the works/under review/forthcoming). Hiring committees will simply not hire folks with scant publications and no pipeline. So many people do not land the tenure track job because they don't get published enough.

3. Get as much teaching experience as possible in grad. school. Not just being a TA, but teaching courses as instructor of record. Teach as many different preps as possible. Yeah, it's a lot of work at first. But hiring committees want people who have some experience in the classroom lest they completely screw up (and create a mess that the department will have to clean up) when they arrive to their new jobs. What's more, diversity of teaching experience means that you can be flexible in filling department teaching needs...and most departments really like people who can plug holes here and there. You might even pick up a class or two at a local community college to get even more teaching experience and experience dealing with less stellar students. Teaching experinces is very highly prized at non-PhD granting departments (see point number 4 below), which is where most of the jobs are anyway.

4. Apply to a wide variety of departments, not just Carnegie I schools. This is something that befuddles me frequently: the graduating PhD candidate who will only apply to PhD granting departments because they have gotten so caught up in the academic snobbery business. Yes, yes...PhD granting departments are the most prestigious positions. But they offer relatively fewer positions in the grand scheme of things -- the are more jobs at the Generic State Universities of the world that there are in the big time programs. This problem is especially acute amongst PhD candidates at high prestige PhD programs ("You have a PhD from Princeton...why would you want to apply for a job at lowly Georgia Southern U. or Cal. State Long Beach?" )

I can’t tell you how many grad students I have seen who put this set of professional blinders on themselves: they apply only to the hot shot schools and (naturally) many good, bright people don't get hired. They then face two prospects:
a. They either then swallow their pride and discover that there are other schools out there that offer attractive tenure track positions, but they have been on the market a bit too long and now face tougher odds because hiring departments now wonder what's wrong with this guy/gal that they haven’t been hired yet, what are the hiding, etc. The ones that get hired usually end up pretty happy and look back and think they were foolish to limit their initial search.
or;
b. They walk away from academia entirely, usually heartbroken or very jaded. Yet many of these same people could have had a very personally rewarding and intellectually fulfilling career at a less prestigious place if they would have only given it a try. I say that such a move is like being shut out of the fanciest restaurant in town and then deciding to starve to death instead of “lowering” yourself to eat at TGIFridays. Hey, it’s a personal choice. But I know professional colleagues at the fancy and not fancy schools…there are plenty of bright and decent people who have good careers at all sorts of schools.

In some ways, I don’t feel too sorry for the people who just walk away because their willingness to abandon a career in the academy rather than take a less prestigious position is very telling about them: they are less interested in intellectual pursuit and teaching than they are in a prestige competition. Again, you find this in some of the more prestigious programs: people who are so driven to succeed that they are more interested in winning the competition than they are in the substance of the prize. These people really are misplaced: such competitive urges are better channeled in the for-profit sector, anyway.
This is excellent advice.
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