Are There Too Many Ph.D.s And Not Enough Jobs? | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Are There Too Many Ph.D.s And Not Enough Jobs?

Play associated audio

Our country needs more people with science, math and engineering degrees — at least, that's the common refrain among politicians and educators.

American students lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to math and science test scores, and the president and others have called for a change in immigration laws that would make it easier for people who come to the U.S. to get technical degrees to stay in the country permanently.

But job numbers released by the National Science Foundation show that people with doctoral degrees in those technical fields are struggling to find work in their industries.

Jordan Weissmann, an editor at The Atlantic, analyzed the latest NSF figures. Upon graduation, he says, "Ph.D.s in general have a less than 50 percent chance of having a full-time job, and that percentage has been decreasing for about 20 years."

Worse yet, as of 2011, approximately one-third of people graduating with a doctoral degree in science, technology, math or engineering had no job or post-doctoral offer of any kind.

These figures are not surprising to many young scientists and engineers who feel the employment squeeze.

John Choiniere, who lives in Seattle, earned a doctorate in analytical chemistry in December. Now, he's unemployed.

"I really want to be able to support my family, and I thought getting a Ph.D. in chemistry would be a great way to do that, but so far, not a lot of luck with that," he says.

But, Weissmann says, there is a silver lining: Those who earn doctoral degrees in technical fields are not likely to face chronic, long-term unemployment.

"I think you look at the science and engineering fields in general, and across all age groups they tend to have extremely low unemployment. You know, maybe 3 percent or so," he says. "I think the question isn't necessarily unemployment, but underemployment certainly is a very live issue in these fields."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Oct. 22

You can see two different plays in Northern Virginia.

NPR

From NFL To 'Scandal,' Whole Foods Buys TV Ads To Boost Its Brand

A pioneer in selling organic, sustainable groceries, Whole Foods now finds itself beset by competitors. So it's launching its first national ad blitz to sell socially conscious consumers on its story.
WAMU 88.5

Online Impersonation In the Crosshairs Of Virginia Lawmakers

Pretending to be someone else online could soon become a Class 1 misdemeanor under legislation being crafted by the Virginia Crime Commission.

NPR

Pew: Gaming Is Least Welcoming Online Space For Women

The Pew Research Center's first study on online harassment shows it happens to most of us. But gender disparities are starkest in online gaming.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.