Archive for Friday, July 21, 1995


July 21, 1995


A Stanford professor's study indicates that U.S. colleges are producing too many Ph.D. graduates is certain fields.

A new study could add to the apprehension of recent recipients of Kansas University doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

The same research by Stanford University professor William Massy may serve as a warning to college students considering graduate school.

Massy said the evidence indicated U.S. colleges and universities awarded more Ph.D.'s in engineering, mathematics and computer science than the nation's economy could soak up.

Charles Himmelberg, professor of math, said his department produced an average of three doctorates a year. While KU can't be blamed for overproduction in math, Himmelberg said there was a nationwide glut.

"There is an oversupply of Ph.D. mathematicians," he said. "There are fewer positions in colleges and universities than there are people looking for jobs."

The oversupply in math is around 25 percent, Massy told the Chronicle of Higher Education, a national weekly tabloid.

In computer science, he said, the news was worse. Only 50 percent of new doctorates can find a job that requires a Ph.D.

Massy said that didn't mean these people were unemployed. They just don't have a job that necessitated a doctorate-level education.

Himmelberg said part of the problem was that U.S. college and university budgets were being cut -- just like at KU. When money is tight, fewer faculty jobs are available.

It's appropriate for the lowest-ranking doctoral institutions to voluntarily reduce the number of doctoral students admitted to degree programs, Massy said.

"Where do you draw the line?" Himmelberg countered.

Himmelberg said the problem wasn't that too many Americans wanted to be university scholars.

The real issue is the influx of international students entering U.S. doctoral programs and immigration of doctoral degree holders from Europe, he said.

"All these things put pressure on the local markets," he said.

Massy's study was supported by a $250,000 grant from the Sloan Foundation. Massy and colleagues reviewed information from 210 doctorate-granting universities and more than 1,000 institutions that employ people with the degrees.

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