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2000 Conference: Selected Bibliography

Selected Bibliography on the topic of Overproduction of Ph.D.s


Arenson, K. W. (1998, November 11). Questions about the future of those many Ph.D.s. New York Times.

This article notes that Ph.D. students know getting a job after graduation will be difficult and many will be underemployed; it describes a study by the Committee on Graduate Education of the Association of American Universities which defends the number of Ph.D.s as useful to society but calls on member institutions to improve tracking of employment of graduates and to prepare students better for a range of careers. Included is acknowledgment by elite institutions that they should take more responsibility for all of their graduates.

Goodstein, D. (1993). Scientific Ph.D. problems. The American Scholar, 62(2), 215-220.

Contrary to the opinion that academic institutions can expect to experience a shortage of graduate students in the future, the author of this article claims that there is a current overproduction of Ph.D.s., and that U.S. academic institutions are responsible for this overproduction. Although federal funding of scientific research has doubled between 1970 and 1993, the number of academic researchers has also doubled. Increasing numbers of foreign and American graduate students enroll in programs which do not expand apace, perhaps compromising their quality. Additionally, foreign students educated at expensive U.S. research universities supported by federal taxes may move on to high-quality employment benefiting academia or industry, or they may return home to the advantage of their native countries which compete economically with the U.S. The author seeks to define a means to produce a stable and sustainable academic world, in which the supply of doctorates meets the demand of academia.

Hartle, T. W. & Galloway, F. J. (1996). Too many Ph.D.s? Too many M.D.s? Change, 28(5), 27-33.

This article offers a history of the supply and demand of doctoral graduates and reviews studies that conclude that the nation has too many Ph.D.s. It concludes that any effort to limit the number of Ph.D.s would be inappropriate and suggests that universities provide more information on the career paths, especially non-academic, of recent doctoral graduates.

Kuh, C. V. (1996, August/September). Is there a Ph.D. glut? Is that the right question? CGS Communicator, 1, 3-4. Available:

This article questions the notion that there is overproduction of Ph.D.s, arguing that demand from the industrial sector may not have been assessed sufficiently. Noting that science doctorates gravitate to industry more than do social science and humanities doctorates, the author advises against indiscriminate cuts in the number of doctoral programs. Instead, academic institutions must examine their purpose and accordingly reshape doctoral programs. In conclusion, academic institutions must consider how research and teaching can be best effected against increasing financial constrictions and with best regard for the benefit of students.

LaPidus, J. B. (1997, November 14). Why pursuing a Ph.D. is a risky business. Chronicle of Higher Education, A60.

LaPidus responds to the charge by some academics and policy-makers that, given the current job market, it is immoral and exploitative to encourage students to enter doctoral programs. He asks: are graduate students really helpless pawns being ill-used and exploited by an uncaring establishment? LaPidus argues that the idea of developing some method to relate enrollments in graduate programs to projections of supply and demand in the job market runs counter to the American value of free choice; no one is forced to study for the Ph.D. The problem, he argues, arises when faculty members convince their students that doctoral education is a waste of their time if they don't become scholars. Faculty must realize that doctoral education gives students skills that can be used in a variety of settings, and it must be left to the students to decide whether doctoral education is a good investment of their funds and time.

LaPidus, J. B. (1996). Scholarship and the future of graduate education in science and engineering. Paper presented at the Radcliffe / CPST Conference "Science careers, gender equity, and the changing economy," College Park, MD.

Addressing perceptions concerning the overproduction of science Ph.D.s, LaPidus asks: How do we relate the nature, as well as the number, of Ph.D.s to national policies and goals for research, to the development of our country's intellectual capital, to the aspirations of potential graduate students, and to the missions of our research universities? Several options for change are considered: cutting back on doctoral production while redesigning programs to be more relevant to current environmental conditions; maintaining production levels while providing students with broader, more market-responsive, backgrounds; creating new, more employer-responsive, kinds of degrees; revitalizing the M.S. degree; and/or committing to base all doctoral programs on a refined, context-free, set of elements transcending external events and conditions. LaPidus concludes that students must know their fields, understand the process of scholarly inquiry, and realistically grasp how these valuable skills may be deployed across a variety of purposes, settings, and careers.

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