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Poor Job Prospects Don't Deter PhD Students

In "The Disposable Academic," The Economist says that "doing a PhD is often a waste of time." While it acknowledges that graduate students complaining that their line of work is akin to "slave labor" is "nothing new," The Economist argues that "there seems to be genuine problems with the system," as there is "an oversupply of PhDs" few job openings for them. The Economist says critics have even gone so far as to compare graduate programs to Ponzi schemes. In addition, while PhDs earn more than their peers who hold only bachelor's degrees — 12 percent, according to Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management statistics — they earn only slightly more, 3 percent, compared to those with master's degrees, which are attainable in as little as one year, compared to the four or more required for a research doctorate.

Over at The Intersection, Sheril Kirshenbaum says that "a PhD is for those ... who embark on the journey not for the degree itself, but out of intense passion for a particular field, while being fully aware of the challenges and uncertainties ahead, including the odds of landing a professorship." Rob at Bayblab reports a similar sentiment. He says that while he considers himself an "underemployed" PhD, he "really enjoyed my extended time as a student — the work and the lifestyle." In fact, he adds, the employment statistics The Economist notes are "better than I had estimated from my experience as a graduate student."

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