In a recently published guide to doctoral student career planning, the MLA’s Connected Academics program advises faculty members and departments to intervene proactively to prepare PhD students for the varied job markets they are likely to encounter upon graduation.
Recent data show that roughly fifty percent of all language and literature PhDs are not employed in tenured or tenure-track faculty positions and are instead in non-tenure-track teaching positions or positions outside the postsecondary classroom altogether. Nevertheless, many PhD programs continue to prepare their students primarily for tenure-track faculty positions.
The new Connected Academics guide argues that this approach is no longer sustainable or desirable. For the sake of not only students but also the humanities, departments must rethink their approaches to PhD career planning. The introduction to the guide states, “Connected Academics affirms that humanities expertise is valuable and desirable outside the academy and that humanists are well suited to move between and among organizations and sectors. If the field is to argue for its own durability and relevance, then it must take seriously the range of work that those who hold its most advanced degree are doing in the world.” Connected Academics is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.