Monday, March 8, 2010

UNR's PhD program to be suspended?

According to a Facebook fan group, "Save UNR's Anthropology PhD Program!", the University of Nevada, Reno is considering suspending their PhD program. I don't know if this is a credible threat, and I have no idea if this is for budget reasons, political in-fighting, or what. Still, the group already has 82 fans, some of whom are Great Basin archaeologists, so presumably they are more clued in than I am.

I hate to see PhD students left stranded, and I don't want anyone to lose their job. Still, I can't join in the lamentation for a PhD program lost. The truth is, we already have too many PhD programs. The last numbers I saw said that there are around 130 PhD's granted in anthropological archaeology every year in the US. The last year I was on the job market, I counted 35 tenure-track jobs total in archaeology. I suspect the job market is a lot worse right now.

Granted, not everyone who gets a PhD wants a tenure-track academic job, but there are still a lot more people who want it than can get it. For many students, a CRM or adjunct job is not worth the time, energy, money, health, and sanity that they would have to sacrifice to get a PhD. Given that graduates from the top schools take a disproportionate number of the available jobs, I find the proliferation of PhD programs at smaller schools to be troubling. I'm glad to be at a liberal arts college, because I would have serious moral issues training graduate students for a job market that barely exists.

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