January 02, 2013
By Robert Townsend
|Figure 1: Number of History PhDs and Advertised Job Openings, 1970–71 to 2011–12|
The AHA’s annual job report, which is being released today, offers mixed news about the state of the history job market, particularly in academia. The number of positions advertised with the AHA last year increased by 18 percent, but the number of new PhDs and the average number of applicants per position also continued to grow—particularly for specialists in the history of the United States. We also found evidence of some modest contraction in the number of full-time faculty positions in the departments listed in the AHA’s Directory of History Departments and Historical Organizations.
Positions are still being advertised, but between June 1, 2012, and the end of December, the number of postings is still growing compared to the academic year before—657 as compared to 594. As the new report indicates, even a growing number of advertisements does not tell the whole story. It all adds up to worrisome news as we head into the busy season for job candidates and search committees.