While prophecies of doom might be more common regarding the job market for humanities PhDs, a number of studies and articles have pointed out that the situation isn’t too rosy for STEM PhDs, either. A recent story in The Atlantic characterized the current situation as a “PhD Bust.”
In short, the number of tenure-track and full-time jobs has fallen, while more young scientists are spending longer working as post-docs (a position that, while it is an accepted transitional part of a research career, can be exploitative).
In 2010, The Economist critiqued the ever-expanding low-wage post-doc, and the over-supply of PhDs generally.
Many PhD students in STEM fields have goals that lie outside of traditional academe (research in industry, etc). But it is clear that the academic market in the sciences has become even more difficult in recent years.
Obviously, none of this is to say that a PhD is not the right choice. It’s just important to be an educated applicant, and apply for the right reasons. Know your goals, be aware of the (growing) challenges posed by the job market, and plan your strategy accordingly.
By Dr. Rebecca Blustein, Accepted.com editor and former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Rebecca will be happy to assist you with your grad school applications.