UO needs more PhD students

2/17/2012: UO needs to boost the number of grad students to stay in the AAU. But what disciplines? Not much point if they can’t get work in their field. Insidehighered reports on the job market for social science PhDs:

… Using the same data (which may be incomplete as many jobs are not posted with the disciplinary associations), the study also calculated a ratio of new Ph.D.s to open rank faculty positions for the four fields. Economics appears in this comparison to have the most favorable job market for new Ph.D.s, with 0.7 Ph.D.s per open rank position. The figures are 1.1 to 1 for political science, 1.3 to 1 for sociology, and 2.1 to 1 for history.

You can also get a crude measure of the research rank of UO departments from the NRC data. If you use the numerical ratings alone (i.e. ignore the reputational survey) and use the midpoint of their confidence range, then divide by the number of programs evaluated in that discipline, you get a crude percentile rank. Here’s that data for UO. So our Psych department is doing the best of all UO departments, at 16%. 11 of our 21 programs are at or above the 50th percentile in their field.

Note that the NRC only bothers to evaluate a subset of the best PhD granting programs, and these percentiles are relative to that subset, so showing up on the list at all is not too shabby an accomplishment. 


Update: An anon commenter has posted an analysis of my “not too shabby” comment above, and I think they are right: the NRC list of PhD programs is a pretty comprehensive list, for the disciplines they track. More corrections on this are welcome. FWIW, the NRC ranking process was very controversial, and the data used in these rankings is now some 7 years old.

Percentile Department
16% Psychology
24% Geography
26% Anthropology
26% Biology
36% Mathematics
36% Geological Sciences
37% History
38% Physics
43% Comparative Literature
44% Economics
50% Political Science
57% Communication and Society
57% Chemistry
64% Philosophy
65% Linguistics
71% Music
75% English
77% Computer and Information Sciences
77% Human Physiology
91% Theatre Arts
94% Sociology
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8 Responses to UO needs more PhD students

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ouch… Sociology is only better than 6 percent of other sociology departments in the nrc? I predict 100% union support from sociology.

  2. Anonymous says:

    According to the NRC Doctoral Program Evaluation Methodology guide, 212 universities and colleges participated and all Colleges and universities in the U.S.A. with doctoral programs were invited. It also states the only colleges and universities that did not participate had very few doctoral programs and were going through reorganization. How does that agree with the NRC only bothers to evaluate a subset of the best PhD granting programs? I am confused by the discrepancy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    pick a discipline, go to us news and count how many phd programs they list, compare to how many nrc ranks

  4. Anonymous says:

    I picked 6 disciplines (Psychology, Physics, English, Computer Science, Economics, and Sociology) and made the comparison you suggest. While there is some support for the comment that NRC evaluates only a subset of PhD granting programs, the data do not support your conclusion that “..showing up on the list at all is not too shabby an accomplishment”. Here are the data:

    Psychology: USNWR 241 programs, NRC 237 programs
    Physics: USNWR 167 programs, NRC 162 programs
    English: USNWR 149 programs, NRC 122 programs
    Computer Science: USNWR 156 programs, NRC 128 programs
    Economics: USNWR 131 programs, NRC 118 programs
    Sociology: USNWR 113 programs, NRC 120 programs

    Given that: a) the only requirement for inclusion in the NRC evaluation was the university and program were both willing to participate by filling out the paperwork and pay the requisite fees, and b) the number of programs evaluated by NRC was fairly similar as the number of programs evaluated by USNWR, I do not see how you can make the comment, “Note that the NRC only bothers to evaluate a subset of the best PhD granting programs, and these percentiles are relative to that subset, so showing up on the list at all is not too shabby an accomplishment” and feel justified. What that an offhand remark based on perception or is there data I am missing? I only took a sample size of 6 for the NRC programs being reviewed, but it does not seem likely these 6 are purely outliers.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If it helps any, for those 6 programs, NRC evaluated 93% of the number of programs evaluated by USNWR.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The problem we have in our department (one of those listed, but at least in the top quartile) is that we are not willing to increase the number of doctoral students without commensurate increases in the resources available to fund them, a viable job market for their degrees whether or not in academia, and a reasonable balance regarding GTF duties that will give them time for education and professional development. But there’s an awful lot of pressure from above (not just CAS) to simply increase the size of courses and sections, and thus tuition dollars, while not increasing costs. Some departments have resisted this more willingly, or effectively, than others. The weight must fall on someone–if not grad students, then junior/adjunct faculty or others who empathize with them. The result is that our grads don’t have the time to realize their potential, so our programs slowly begin to slip down the rankings, perpetuating a descending spiral. I don’t want to think of what my job prospects would have looked like if my grad funding hadn’t included two full years of fellowship so I could focus on writing and research.

    So we don’t need more PhD students, necessarily. We need to invest in the ones we’ve got. But that would require, you know, using academic-side money for academics.

  7. Anonymous says:

    in case this point is not widely appreciated, It is worth noting that in the 90s NRC rankings, the median UO program ranked was below the median, where now the reverse is true, at least in CAS. when doubting our power as faculty and individual programs, just consider that accomplishment for the lowest funded college on the lowest funded AAU campus in the country. Some good things were accomplishedn spite of central incompetence (or worse.)i mostly worry we’ll trade central administrative mediocrity and misplaced priorities for lowest common denominator priorities and rigid, one-size fits all contact provisions of a union. Finally, a curious FPC member might be interested in matching lowest ranked programs against P&T ‘reversals’ by recent provost(s) of negative dept/college recommendations.

  8. Anonymous says:

    An interesting exercise is to recalibrate the NRC rankings over depts in public universities. For most fields this makes little relative difference, but for some fields it makes a big difference because 1)some disciplines are not represented in the strong, elite privates, so they get an automatic curve because they are not competing with harvard, princeton, yale, brown, stanford, etc. in other fields almost no depts at public universities compete with the top 10-15 privates. just for the curious minded