Humanities Indicators
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Occupations of Humanities Ph.D.'s
(Updated October 2016)

In recent years, the National Endowment for the Humanities and disciplinary societies for the humanities have undertaken projects to track the occupations of Ph.D.’s and promote career diversity for doctoral degree recipients in the field.[1] While humanities Ph.D.’s can be in virtually every occupational sector, our findings indicate that they are much more likely than recipients in other fields to pursue careers in academe.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2013, 60% of employed humanities Ph.D.’s were teaching at the postsecondary level as their principal job (Indicator III-7a). In comparison, just 30% of employed doctoral degree recipients from all fields were in postsecondary teaching.
  • Outside the humanities, the arts were the only field for which more than half of Ph.D.’s were employed as teachers in academia (55%; Indicator III-7b). Among doctoral degree recipients in engineering and the life, physical, and medical science fields, 18–28% of employed doctoral degree recipients were in postsecondary teaching, while more than 42% were employed either in science and engineering jobs or (in the case of graduates from the health and medical sciences) in healthcare. Doctorate holders in the behavioral and social sciences fell roughly between the humanities and the other sciences, with approximately a third of such degree recipients employed in postsecondary teaching, and another third in science and engineering occupations.
  • Within the humanities, the occupational distribution of Ph.D. holders differed modestly by gender (Indicator III-7c). Female humanities Ph.D.’s were somewhat more likely to be employed as postsecondary teachers than their male counterparts. Men were more likely to be employed in nonteaching positions in education (generally, administrative posts). Male humanities Ph.D.’s were also more likely than their female counterparts to work in library/museum and computer occupations, while women with humanities Ph.D.’s were more commonly found in management positions and in precollegiate education jobs than their male counterparts.
III-7a: Occupations of Ph.D.’s,* Humanities and All Fields Combined, 2013

* Employed at any time in the previous five years.
** See the provided crosswalk for information regarding the occupations included in this category.

Source: Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org) of data from National Science Foundation, National Survey of College Graduates, 2013.

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III-7b: Occupations of Ph.D.’s in Selected Academic Fields,* 2013
* Employed at any time in the previous five years.
** Includes the occupations categorized under “Other” for purposes of Indicator III-7a, as well as office/administrative support, service, sales, and legal occupations.
† Does not include M.D.’s. The Humanities Indicators treats these as professional degrees. See “Occupations of Master’s Degree Recipients in the Humanities.”
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III-7c: Occupations of Humanities Ph.D.’s,* by Gender, 2013

* Employed at any time in the previous five years.
** See the provided crosswalk for information regarding the occupations included in this category.

Source: Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org) of data from National Science Foundation, National Survey of College Graduates, 2013.

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../cmsData/xls/table_III-7c.xls../cmsData/ppt/III-7c.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-7c.pdf

Endnotes

[1] For examples of career-tracking studies, see L. Maren Wood and Robert B. Townsend, “The Many Careers of History Ph.D.’s: A Study of Job Outcomes, Spring 2013,” American Historical Association, October 2013; and David Laurence, “Where Are They Now? Occupations of 1996–2011 PhD Recipients in 2013,” The Trend, February 17, 2015. For discussions of career diversity initiatives, see Rosemary Feal, “Expanding Career Horizons: Possibilities, Pitfalls,” MLA Commons, April 16, 2014; Emily Swafford, “Career Diversity for Historians Year in Review,” Perspectives on History, November 2015; and National Endowment for the Humanities, “Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. Grants,” http://www.neh.gov/divisions/challenge/featured-project/next-generation-humanities-phd (accessed 9/15/2016).