Proposal to Offer Job-Friendly English Ph.D. Draws Criticism

September 16, 2014 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 16th, 2014

In the 1990s, efforts at Georgetown University to start a doctorate in English fell apart because of concerns about the dim employment prospects for graduates. Today those job worries have only worsened, but the English department is now set to offer a new Ph.D., one that it says has career preparation at its core.

Faculty members who have backed the proposal call it the first English Ph.D. in the nation created specifically to train students for employment both inside and outside academe.

With academic jobs drying up or shifting away from the tenure track, Georgetown and other universities are looking for ways to help doctoral graduates expand their career opportunities, as well as to ensure that Ph.D. programs are relevant in today’s economy.

But such moves have triggered a debate within humanities departments. Indeed, at Georgetown the proposed degree has divided the English faculty, with opponents saying it cheapens the worth of a Ph.D. and questioning whether the prestigious institution should start a new program when the job market is so poor.

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