Science Ph.D. students' interest in faculty jobs decreases over time

May 3, 2012

Science Ph.D. students' interest in a faculty job wanes after they have spent more years in school, while other careers become more attractive, according to a study published May 2 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The results are based on a survey of over 4,000 U.S. Ph.D. students in life sciences, chemistry, and physics conducted by a research team led by Henry Sauermann of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The decreasing interest in faculty positions occurred despite the reportedly strong encouragement from advisors for students to pursue academic research careers. This study suggests that science Ph.D. need more information and resources about pursuing non-academic careers, the authors write.

"This study provides unique survey evidence regarding students' career preferences, supporting common concerns regarding imbalances between career preferences and faculty positions actually available. However, the study also shows important differences across fields and suggests that non-academic careers become relatively more attractive over time, despite strong encouragement of academic careers by departments and advisors."

Explore further: Study of social science PhDs recommends changes for 21st century

More information: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036307

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