Small Signs of Improvement in Academic History Jobs

Number of History PhD's and Advertised Job Openings 1970-71 to 2011-12In advance of the annual meeting, we are publishing the annual job report a day earlier than the rest of the January issue of Perspectives on History. The report notes small signs of improvement, in both the number of jobs advertised and the mix of positions available. But there are still some troubling indicators—the number of applicants for positions continued to rise in every major field of specialization, and the number of students both earning and working toward doctoral degrees in history remains exceptionally high relative to the number of jobs available.

In the 2010–11 academic year, job advertisements rose by 10.2 percent, and advertisements for the current academic year were up another 6.2 percent as of December 1, 2011. The number of positions advertised increased in every geographic category that we currently track except one.

A follow-up survey to advertisers produced some interesting insights. Only a few positions were cancelled for financial reasons this year—down sharply from a comparable survey two years ago—and in line with findings from surveys in previous years. Most of the responding advertisers reported they were satisfied with the applicant pool, but that is hardly surprising given that they reported an average of almost 88 candidates per opening to choose from.

For broader context on these annual snapshot figures, be sure to read “The Ecology of the History Job Market,” which appeared in the December 2011 issue of Perspectives on History.

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