Humanities Indicators
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Earnings of Humanities Ph.D.’s
(Updated October 2016)

Recipients of doctoral degrees in the humanities have the lowest median earnings of any field, due in part to the large share of Ph.D.’s in the field who are employed as postsecondary faculty—an occupation where average humanities salaries are relatively low.[1] The following analysis provides a snapshot of the differences in earnings among the fields and between men and women in each field.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2013, college graduates with a Ph.D. in the humanities had the lowest median earnings of graduates with doctorates in any of the major academic fields (Indicator III-8a; due to small sample size, Ph.D.’s in the arts are not included). While Ph.D.’s in the humanities reported median earnings of $75,000, the median income for all doctoral degree recipients was $99,000. Doctoral degree recipients in engineering had the highest median earnings, $124,000.
  • Male recipients of humanities doctoral degrees had median earnings of $95,000, which is $32,000 above their female counterparts, but both men and women with humanities doctorates had the lowest median earnings for doctoral recipients of their gender in any field.
  • The 33.7% gender gap in earnings among humanities Ph.D.’s was one of the largest among all the fields studied—second only to Ph.D. recipients in business, who had a 36.3% gap. When all fields are considered together, the gap was 24.5% (Indicator III-8b).
  • While the median earnings of humanities Ph.D.’s were relatively low, the top 25% of humanities Ph.D.’s earned more than did half of the degree recipients from every other field (Indictor III-8c). The gap between the high earners and those at the median was comparatively wide in the humanities, with a difference of 68% between the 50th and 75th earnings percentiles—substantially greater than for every other field except business. Conversely, the gap between the lower quartile and median earnings was 34% for humanities Ph.D.’s, narrower than for every other field except education. When all fields are considered together, this gap was a much wider 60%.
III-8a: Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Doctoral Degree, by Gender and Field of Degree, 2013*

* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks during the previous 12 months. Earnings estimates have been rounded to the nearest $1,000.
** Does not include M.D.’s. The Humanities Indicators treats these as professional degrees. See “Earnings of Humanities Master’s Degree Recipients.”

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-8b: Gender Earnings Gap among Full-Time Workers with a Doctoral Degree, by Field of Degree, 2013*

* The earnings gap is the difference between male and female median annual earnings expressed as a percentage of male median earnings. Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks during the previous 12 months.
** Does not include M.D.’s. The Humanities Indicators treats these as professional degrees. See “Earnings of Humanities Master’s Degree Recipients.”

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-8c: Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Doctoral Degree, by Field of Degree, 2013*

* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks during the previous 12 months. Earnings estimates have been rounded to the nearest $1,000.
** Does not include M.D.’s. The Humanities Indicators treats these as professional degrees. See “Earnings of Humanities Master’s Degree Recipients.”

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

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/tableIII-8c_final.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-8c.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-8c.pdf

Endnotes

[1] According to the annual faculty salary survey from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources for the 2014–2015 academic year, faculty members in history, philosophy, and religious studies, as well as English and languages and literatures other than English, were all in the bottom half of median salaries at each rank. For instance, assistant professors in all disciplines combined had a median salary of $67,881, while the median salary for faculty in the larger humanities disciplines was less than $60,000. At the full professor level, the median salary was $100,087 for faculty in all disciplines combined, compared to less than $93,000 for faculty members in the humanities disciplines. Faculty salaries by discipline are available in the report “Median Salaries of Tenured and Tenure-Track Professors at 4-Year Colleges, 2014-15,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16, 2015, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Median-Salaries-of-Tenured-and/228435/ (accessed 9/21/2016).