Those with Advanced Degrees in Humanities Struggle in Current Job Market, Study Shows

The Long Clichéd Line About Humanities Degrees Being Poorly Suited for the Job Market Is Endorsed by Study

While the number of students pursuing master’s and doctorates in humanities remains high, according to a study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, job prospects remain low.

With many universities cutting tenure jobs and instead relying on contract professors who are often underpaid and overworked, the prospect of spending sometimes as many as eight to 10 years to complete a degree would seem like an unattractive move for students. But despite these foreboding numbers, thousands still flocked to the humanities to receive master’s and doctorate degrees.

The humanities field doled out over 28,000 master’s degrees in 2015, marking the third consecutive yearly decline, with an 11% reduction from the 2012 rates. Still, the number of master’s degrees conferred in 2015 was still higher than in every year from 1987 to 2007, demonstrating a growing boom in interest for these degrees.

Doctoral humanities programs, meanwhile, experienced the highest number of graduates, with 5,891 degrees being awarded. That is the highest number of conferred degrees since the data was first measured in 1987.


But the dwindling job prospects for young people in the U.S. is well documented, and the difficulty in finding jobs for those with advanced degrees in humanities is only exacerbated by the record number of people receiving the degrees, putting a further strain not only these students’ future job prospects, but also the opportunities of prospective students



Advanced Degrees in the Humanities,” American Academy of Arts and Sciences, August 2017.

The Shrinking Humanities Job Market,” Inside Higher Ed, August 28, 2017.


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