William Deresiewcz, reflecting on his experience teaching in Yale’s English department more than a decade ago:
At Yale, in an English department that was perennially ranked in the top ten, we were overjoyed if half our graduating students found positions. That’s right—half. Imagine running a medical school on this basis. A Christopher Newfield points out in Unmaking the Public University, that’s the kind of unemployment rate you’d expect to find among inner-city high school dropouts. And this was before the financial collapse. Since then, the market’s been a bloodbath—often only a handful of jobs in a given field, sometimes fewer, and, as always, hundreds of people competing for each.
In any other industry, you might think the Federal Trade Commission or some other body might investigate the institutions for fraud on the market. At the very least, maybe Congress should pass a law requiring all graduate programs to disclose to prospective applicants their placement rate for completed Ph.Ds. That would be a fun thing to watch.