It's nearing that time when graduate programs admit students. Should any of us be encouraging our students to pursue a PhD in philosophy? If so, under what conditions?
Thomas Benton takes up the issue in a recent CHE piece. His advice to undergraduates: you should attend graduate school in the humanities only if you satisfy one of these conditions:
- You are independently wealthy, and you have no need to earn a living for yourself or provide for anyone else.
- You come from that small class of well-connected people in academe who will be able to find a place for you somewhere.
- You can rely on a partner to provide all of the income and benefits needed by your household.
- You are earning a credential for a position that you
already hold — such as a high-school teacher — and your employer is
paying for it.
His rationale is basically the horrible and worsening prospects for finding gainful and satisfying employment upon completion. The financial and emotional risks are just too great to justify the gamble.
Do you agree? Is he being too pessimistic?