Number of History PhDs Inches Upwards by Robert B. Townsend From the News column of the January 2004 Perspectives
The number of new history PhDs inched upward slightly, rising from 1,024 in the 2000-01 academic year to 1,030 in 2001-02. While modest, this reverses a brief decline and marks the second-highest number of new history PhDs since 1976. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) also reports further improvement in the hiring of new history PhDs. The report contains another positive sign, as the number of new history PhDs with "definite employment" when they received their degree rose by 2.5 percent to just under 53 percent of the new PhDs. This marks an increase of 18 percent from the low point reached in 1998-99.
Demographics of the 2002 PhD Cohort by Robert B. Townsend From the News column of the January 2004 Perspectives
The time spent working toward the degree dipped slightly, from an average of 9.3 years registered for graduate courses to 9 years. However, the average number of years since the baccalaureate degree actually increased a bit, to 11.8 years after completing the baccalaureate degree. The average age of new history PhDs showed little change, with a median age of 34.7 years. The age and years since the bachelor's degree are actually lower than the average for PhDs in non-science fields, where the median time since the baccalaureate degree was 14 years, and the median age was 38.3. However, those figures are skewed significantly higher by PhDs in education, where the PhD is a vital credential for advancement after years in the classroom. History continues to set the pace for the longest time spent registered for classes, though English and American languages increased to the same nine-year pace. But these are the only fields where new PhDs are taking so long to get their degrees. Other data on the demographics of the new PhD cohort marked some significant changes. The proportion of women among the new cohort of history PhDs fell for just the third time in the past 10 years, from 40.3 percent to 40 percent of the new degree recipients. At the same time, the recent advantage women seemingly enjoyed on the job market was erased. Over the past decade women were 5 to 10 percent more likely to report definite employment when they received their degrees, and the difference on the numbers still seeking employment was even higher. However, in 2002 the gap between men and women on both questions disappeared. It is clearly too early to tell what this might indicate for the changing dynamics of the job market for history PhDs.
BOOK FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS IN HISTORY
Becoming a Historian: A Survival Manual?2003 Edition Melanie S. Gustafson
"For those just entering the historical work force, this revised and updated edition of Gustafson's popular guide provides the necessary practical information about the profession, revealing some of the "unwritten" rules and containing invaluable advice on the specifics of graduate school, the job search, and various professional dilemmas." 2003. 97 pages. ISBN 0-87229-117-0 $6 members of the American Historical Association; $8 nonmembers
"This new resource offers a profile of history doctoral progams in the U.S., advice for applicants to PhD programs, and searchable databases on dissertations in progress and completed in those programs." This is an impressive website and should be of great value to those thinking of earning a Ph.D. in history.
The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University offers a comprehensive and searchable database of almost 1,200 History Departments around the World. The database is an excellent resource if you are looking for the email addresses of other historians. Many department Web pages also include detailed biographical information on their entire faculty as well as information on their programs and requirements.
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES WITH A GRADUATE DEGREE IN HISTORY
PROPORTION OF UNDERGRADUATES WHO ARE HISTORY MAJORS
Employment as an archivist, conservator, or curator usually requires graduate education and related work experience. A graduate degree in history or library science, with courses in archival science, is preferred by most employers. While completing their formal education, many archivists and curators work in archives or museums to gain the hands-on experience that many employers seek. Keen competition is expected for the most desirable job openings, which generally attract a large number of applicants. See the 2004-2005 Occupational Outlook Handbook
TEACHING SECONDARY HISTORY WITH A GRADUATE DEGREE IN HISTORY
Ron Briley, assistant headmaster and history teacher at Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, makes a strong case that, even for someone with a graduate degree in history, teaching history at the secondary school level is AN OPTION WORTH PURSUING.
WRITERS AND EDITORS Most jobs in this occupation require a college degree in communications, journalism, or English, although a degree in a technical subject may be useful for technical-writing positions.
The outlook for most writing and editing jobs is expected to be competitive, because many people with writing or journalism training are attracted to the occupation.
Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring the demand for writers and editors, especially those with Web experience.
Communicating through the written word, writers and editors generally fall into one of three categories. Writers and authors develop original fiction and nonfiction for books, magazines, trade journals, online publications, company newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, motion pictures, and advertisements. (Reporters and correspondents who collect and analyze facts about newsworthy events are described elsewhere in the Handbook.) Editors examine proposals and select material for publication or broadcast. They review and revise a writer's work for publication or dissemination. Technical writers develop technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. They also may assist in layout work.
Historians research, analyze, and interpret the past. They use many sources of additional information in their research, including government and institutional records, newspapers and other periodicals, photographs, interviews, films, and unpublished manuscripts such as personal diaries and letters. Historians usually specialize in a country or region, a particular period, or a particular field, such as social, intellectual, cultural, political, or diplomatic history. Biographers collect detailed information on individuals. Other historians help study and preserve archival materials, artifacts, and historic buildings and sites.
Historians can expect slower-than-average growth because they enjoy fewer opportunities outside of government and academic settings with competition for jobs remaining keen. .
CAREER AS A LAWYER The History major is a traditional avenue into the law, government service, and teaching. The skills of critical reading and thinking are valuable assets, and law schools recognize it. It is not necessary to be a "pre-law" major. A diverse and critical education provides skills and understandings that early specialization cannot. From the NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY.
TEACHING HISTORY AND THE COLLEGE LEVEL
The American Historical Association covers CAREERS IN THE CLASSROOM from primary and secondary education to graduate universities giving an overview of the field, indicating the scope of training required, types of jobs, and recent trends in the job market.
LIBRARIAN A master's degree in library science usually is required; special librarians often need an additional graduate or professional degree. A large number of retirements in the next decade is expected to result in many job openings for librarians to replace those who leave. Librarians increasingly use information technology to perform research, classify materials, and help students and library patrons seek information.