Archive for Sunday, May 15, 1994


May 15, 1994


The job outlook for people getting doctoral degrees is somewhat gloomy.

Getting that first big job in academia has been difficult, says Steve Kelly.

Kelly, who graduated last August with a doctorate in music education, has been on the hunt since February 1993.

"I just (last) week got a job offer. So it took me a little over a year to get a job," Kelly said.

Kelly said the 14-month search wasn't a negative reflection on KU's music department -- but it does sound a sour note on job prospects for those trying to find university positions.

"I just think the job market is very tight. I recently came from a national conference of music educators and found this tightness in the market seems to be a trend nationwide at all levels," he said.

Breaking into an academic career for new Ph.D.s has been difficult in recent years in some fields, said Terry Glenn, director of KU's University Placement Center.

"Years ago, we used to have other higher education institutions come on campus recruiting faculty members," he said. "We haven't had that for a number of years."

Universities are now getting large numbers of applications for most of the positions they have open, he said.

"I think it's kind of disappointing for some people really," Glenn said.

Andrew Debicki, dean of KU's Graduate School, said the experience of those with new doctoral degrees varies from field to field.

"The hardest fields to get jobs in right now are probably English and history," he said. Ph.D.s in natural sciences and business are more in demand.

Debicki, whose own field of expertise is Spanish, said eight people with a doctoral degree in Spanish at KU have found positions this year.

One factor making it easier to find a job is by linking up with a prominent faculty member in their field or by getting into a school whose program has national prestige, he said.

"The big factor is supply and demand in any given discipline," he said.

Kelly has found that's true in trying to peddle his music education doctorate. He was competing for positions with people who already had jobs at other universities.

"People who are just entering the market are at a real disadvantage," he said.

He also found that when jobs at smaller institutions opened, those jobs were either eliminated or combined with other positions.

Kelly said the job he's taking is a one-year position at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

"Even though it's a one-year position, they have indicated that they will consider me for a permanent position when it comes open," he said. "It seems to be the kind of position I always wanted."

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