Plumb Lines

April 27, 2009

Why I Am Not Getting a Ph.D.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael E. van Landingham @ 12:24 pm

An op/ed from the chairman of the religion department at Columbia University discusses the untenable situation of academia. The thesis:

Graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

I observed most of this firsthand as an undergraduate, and chose for my own sanity to avoid graduate studies beyond a Master’s. There is not much of a future in the humanities for all those newly minted doctors of philosophy. (Especially in Russian literature or history.) Tenure track jobs are few and far between, and forced retirement is now illegal. Who wants to read a monograph about Gogol’s humor anyway?

(via Ivy Gate)

-Michael E. van Landingham



  1. […] You see, Langdon (played by Forrest Gump alumnus Tom Hanks) is really smart because he reduces religion to symbols and compares those symbols to paganism and other cultures. And did we mention he’s a Harvard professor who went to Exeter? There’s also a lady scientist who holds an advanced degree in fancy energy studies and an Italian accent. She doesn’t really do much the whole film except mutilate a priceless copy of a Galileo work. The pope is dead, too, and the old cardinals have to elect a new one. Apparently she’s part of this because some anti-matter, like the kind that powers the Enterprise, was stolen from a Swiss lab. And did I mention that the Illuminati are really angry with the Vatican because it killed a bunch of scientists and oppressed them four hundred years ago? Langdon gets in on the action because he writes books about the Illuminati—a dubious way to get tenure, but you never know these days. […]

    Pingback by I Wish the Vatican Had Placed “Angels & Demons” under House Arrest « Plumb Lines — May 21, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

  2. This is pretty much where I’m at as well. Perhaps a law degree. At least there is still something of a job market there – though the price tag is daunting, and I am poor… (well, poor enough…)

    Comment by E.D. Kain — May 21, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

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