While finishing the Ph.D. that I restarted 10 years ago is near top-of-mind, the priority falls when the prospects of completing the degree are considered. After my early retirement last fall, I started looking seriously at academic positions, and the prospects in Canada didn’t seem great. Melonie Fullick, a Ph.D. candidate at York University writes:
Can there really be a purpose for the PhD other than as preparation for the tenure track? For more academics and students the answer is now “yes,” but in many doctoral programmes outcomes other than permanent academic employment are not viewed positively. Those who pursue them may receive less institutional support and faculty mentorship, because PhD supervisors are usually faculty who have primarily worked within the university, and they’re less likely to have cultivated professional relationships elsewhere.
Canada is only “producing too many PhDs” if every student is being encouraged to pursue an academic career and nothing else. In that case, there certainly aren’t enough positions to go around. One solution is that universities should increase tenure-track hiring so that more full-time permanent work is available. Yet even if this happened, it’s unlikely there would be enough jobs to “absorb” all those currently under– and unemployed, who are still on the academic job market. Should PhD programmes be reduced in size? Perhaps, but the problem with simply reducing enrollments is that it’s likely to restrict doctoral education to those who can most easily access the right resources. This lowers the chances that traditionally underprivileged groups will be represented among faculty at Canadian universities.
Who will hire all the PhDs? Not Canada’s universities | Melonie Fullick | April 12, 2013 | The Globe and Mail at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/who-will-hire-all-the-phds-not-canadas-universities/article10976412.