Humanities Indicators
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Workforce  >  Career Paths of Graduates with Advanced Degrees in the Humanities
Job Satisfaction of Humanities Ph.D. Recipients
(Updated June 2018)

As the Indicators report elsewhere, recipients of doctoral degrees in the humanities tend to earn less than their counterparts in other fields. They also have a different occupational profile. With respect to job satisfaction, academically employed humanities Ph.D.’s report levels that are similar to those of Ph.D.’s in other fields who work in the academy. Humanities Ph.D.’s working outside the academy, however, are substantially less likely than other nonacademically employed Ph.D.’s to be satisfied with their employment.

Findings and Trends

  • Humanities Ph.D. recipients had job satisfaction levels similar to their counterparts in several other major fields, with almost 88% of all humanities Ph.D.’s reporting they were satisfied with their jobs in 2015 (Indicator III-8l). The share of all Ph.D.’s reporting satisfaction was 91%.
  • While the job satisfaction rate among humanities Ph.D.’s employed in academia was the same as that for Ph.D.’s generally (approximately 91%), the rate among those employed outside academia was lower by 12 percentage points (80% for humanities Ph.D.’s, compared to 92% for all fields combined). The share of humanities Ph.D.’s employed outside the academy who expressed satisfaction was at least nine percentage points smaller than that found in every other major academic field.
III-8l: Humanities Ph.D. Recipients Indicating They Are “Very” or “Somewhat” Satisfied with Their Job, by Field of Degree and Employment Sector, 2015

* The analysis excludes holders of the D.D.S., D.V.M., M.D., and other nonresearch degrees. A doctorate degree holder is considered employed in academia if he or she works for a two- or four-year college/university, medical school, or university research institute in any capacity.

Source: National Science Foundation, 2015 National Survey of College Graduates. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (

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