Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Latest on the History Job Market

It's better than last year, but still not great. The AHA posted its 2012 jobs report today just in time for the annual convention in New Orleans. Here is a summary:
  •  Job openings in history have risen for the second year in a row.
  • Employers posted 740 jobs with the AHA in 2011-2012.  This is still well below the 1064 jobs posted in 2007-2008.
  • The number of part-time and adjunct faculty in history departments has increased by 8.9 percent over the past ten years
  • The numbers of jobs in European history, history of the Middle East, and Islamic world are on the rise.
  • Job openings in North American history are "lagging well behind even as the job market recovers."
  • Job openings in digital history are on the rise.  Employers are looking for digital historians and traditional historians who have a field in digital history.
  • The number of Ph.Ds reporting employment at the time they earned their degree "has fallen to unprecedented lows."
  • The number of recent Ph.Ds doing post-docs is on the rise.
  • Average number of applications for a job in U.S. history is 118.
  • The number of applicants to graduate programs in history is declining for the first time five years.
Robert Townsend, the deputy director of the AHA, concludes:

By all indications, the academic job market remains highly challenging for anyone entering the market today, and anyone still struggling to find employment after a number of years. What the future will hold for those just entering doctoral programs—given that it takes an average of eight years to finish the degree—is impossible to tell.

While the job market for history PhDs offers a wide array of opportunities—both inside and outside the academy—almost 80 percent of the new doctorate recipients in the field set their sights on employment in academia. Given the potential for shifts in undergraduate student interest and the rise of online courses (with large class sizes and commensurately smaller staffing needs) the career prospects for history PhDs focused on academia remains cloudy.