The PhD is an Endangered Species

Head in the Sand

Graduate programs continue to crank out adjunct professors who support the system on their backs by becoming cogs in the academic machinery, and no one is talking about what will happen when the system finally collapses under its own weight.

University administrations are building their temp workforces, offering low wage jobs to any poor teacher who has a large enough debt balance and few enough other employment prospects. They do it because they can, which obviously isn’t always a good reason. This irresponsible hiring rash is a temporary fix to a long term problem.

Eventually it will catch up to them.

On the other side of the table are the graduate programs that are engaging in equally irresponsible behavior–accepting and graduating PhD after PhD, knowing full well that they are releasing their students into the abyss without properly preparing them.

Training grad students to be professors is foolish at this point. Everyone with half a brain who studies higher education can see the writing on the wall. This profession is shrinking by the day.

The only way for graduate programs to maintain some dignity and relevance in this new higher ed economy is for them to start adapting to the changing job market. Grad programs need to create new career tracks for their PhD students. If this doesn’t happen, I can’t imagine why anyone will continue to earn PhDs. Graduate programs will effectively squeeze themselves out of relevance by refusing to adapt.

Some schools have recognized this reality and have begun discussing the concept of alternative academic careers, or alt-ac for short. The alt-ac is the future of graduate studies and it’s time to start preparing students accordingly.

Read more about the relevance of PhDs and the importance of alt-ac training at:

The Ph.D. Needs CPR


  1. Too bad for me. Teaching is my second career. I spent two years and lots of $$$ getting my MA in TESOL and although I’ve been teaching for two plus years, it’s clear now that this is NOT a real job and probably never will be. What a rip off, for me and for my students.

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