Humanities Indicators
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Workforce  >  Career Paths of Graduates with Advanced Degrees in the Humanities
 
Occupations of Humanities Ph.D.'s
(Updated June 2018)

In recent years, the National Endowment for the Humanities and disciplinary societies in the humanities have undertaken projects to track the occupations of Ph.D.’s and promote career diversity for doctoral degree recipients in the field.[1] While humanities Ph.D.’s can be found in virtually every occupational sector, the data indicate that they are much more likely than recipients in other fields to pursue careers in academe.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2015, 56% of employed humanities Ph.D.’s were teaching at the postsecondary level as their principal job (Indicator III-7a). In comparison, just 29% of employed doctoral degree recipients in all fields combined were in postsecondary teaching.
  • Outside the humanities, only one field—business—had more than half of its employed Ph.D.’s working in academia (53%; Indicator III-7b). In the sciences and engineering, 17–32% of employed doctoral degree recipients were in postsecondary teaching, while at least 38% from each of these fields were employed either in science and engineering jobs or (in the case of graduates from the health and medical sciences) healthcare.
  • Within the humanities, the occupational distribution of employed Ph.D. holders differed only modestly by gender (Indicator III-7c). The most marked difference in occupation between the genders was in management jobs, with male humanities Ph.D.’s more likely than their female counterparts to hold such positions (18.5% of men as compared with 8.5% of women).
III-7a: Occupational Distribution of Ph.D.’s,* Humanities and All Fields Combined, 2015

* Employed at any time (full- or part-time) in the previous five years.
** See the provided crosswalk for information regarding the occupations included in this category.

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

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III-7b: Occupational Distribution of Ph.D.’s in Selected Academic Fields,* 2015

* Employed at any time (full- or part-time) in the previous five years.
** Includes the occupations categorized under “Other” for purposes of Indicator III-7a, as well as office/administrative support, service, sales, and legal occupations.
† Excludes holders of the D.D.S., D.V.M., M.D., and other non-research degrees.

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

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III-7c: Occupational Distribution of Humanities Ph.D.’s,* by Gender, 2015

* Employed at any time (full- or part-time) in the previous five years.
** See the provided crosswalk for information regarding the occupations included in this category.

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

About this DataRelated Indicators
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Endnotes

[1] For examples of career-tracking studies, see L. Maren Wood and Robert B. Townsend, “The Many Careers of History Ph.D.’s: A Study of Job Outcomes, Spring 2013,” American Historical Association, October 2013; and David Laurence, “Where Are They Now? Occupations of 1996–2011 PhD Recipients in 2013,” The Trend, February 17, 2015. For discussions of career diversity initiatives, see Council of Graduate Schools, “Promising Practices in Humanities PhD Professional Development,” http://cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/NEH_NextGen_LessonsLearned.pdf (accessed 11/1/2017); Rosemary Feal, “Expanding Career Horizons: Possibilities, Pitfalls,” MLA Commons, April 16, 2014; and Emily Swafford, “Career Diversity for Historians Year in Review,” Perspectives on History, November 2015.