Healthy but Mismatched History Job Market

Historians in the News

The overall numbers look good for historians on the job market this year, but the total figures hide the surpluses of would-be professors in some fields, shortages in others and a decrease in the percentage of new Ph.D.’s going to women.

Data released by the American Historical Association in advance of this week’s annual meeting in Washington project that 940 new history Ph.D.’s will have been awarded in 2007, a slight dip from the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of history jobs listed in Perspectives, an AHA publication, is expected to be steady at about 1,030. (While not all job openings in history at listed in Perspectives, many are and the publication provides a good sense of direction in the job market.) This means that for the first time in the past 25 years, the number of known openings exceeded the number of new Ph.D.’s for three consecutive years.

That’s obviously good news for new Ph.D.’s. But analysis of the data by Robert Townsend, the AHA’s assistant director for research and publications, shows why the graduate students traveling to Washington for job interviews at the annual meeting do not necessarily have the odds in their favor. That’s because history departments continue to produce more Ph.D.’s in some areas (American and European history) than there are jobs in those subfields, while not producing enough Ph.D.’s to match demand in some areas....

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