What use the PhD?

There’s been a lot of Sturm and Drang lately about getting your doctorate–at least in the humanities. Now The Economist weighs in here –and not just about the humanities. The correspondent (The Economist contains no bylines) apparently got hers in the life sciences and is none too thrilled.

There are several major trends converging here, among them: the role of tenure, the role of postdoc, the role of graduate students in research and teaching and finally the market outside academia for persons with doctorates. The key element is that things are changing rapidly (as this piece implies) and that what the future holds for the academic research enterprise isn’t entirely clear.

That said, my own view of the majority of our doctoral students is that they are a bright, fairly fulfilled bunch. They work very hard, but they convey a sense of optimism about their own futures. Of course, this may be an advantageous strategy for graduate students within eyesight/earshot of their institute director.