PhD Outcomes and Career Resources

We offer strong support and deep resources for PhDs pursuing careers inside and outside academia. Our Job Placement Officer works closely with students planning to go on the academic job market beginning in the spring before they apply. That assistance involves both group meetings and individual workshopping of job letters, dissertation abstracts, and teaching statements. In the fall, the department schedules mock interviews for candidates to prepare them for talking to job committees at conferences, on site, or (as increasingly happens) via Skype. For candidates with campus visits, we have job talks at home before students give them abroad.

Preparation for the academic job market begins, of course, much earlier than the year of application. The program is designed to prepare our students for all of the responsibilities of teaching and scholarship. Our pedagogy seminar acquaints students with the theory of pedagogy, while giving them practical tools for their work leading precepts (the local name for seminar discussion sections). Our Teaching Collaboration program allows advanced students to design and co-teach a course with a member of the faculty. The Graduate Writing Seminar guides students in the transition between a seminar paper and a publishable article. All the way along, each student’s advisors are closely involved in talking and working through the ideas that give the dissertation life. Princeton’s committee advising structure means that three faculty members are closely familiar with the student’s work, and able to write strong, informed letters of recommendation. Last, but not least, we are a community that supports and challenges the intellectual work of all our members—the dissertations written at Princeton are scholarly, imaginative, and outward-looking; our graduates have strong voices, and they are widely heard.

Most students who enter the program have an academic career in mind, but nationally, across the humanities, only slightly more than fifty percent of PhD’s find a place on the tenure track. Princeton’s academic job placement statistics are very competitive—more detail below—but we also offer strong support to students who decide to put the PhD to other purposes. Each year we hold several events with alumni and others to acquaint students with opportunities in other fields. The Graduate School and Princeton’s Center for Career Development both have staff dedicated to assisting PhD candidates and recent graduates to explore a wide range of opportunities. We recommend that every entering student actively consider other kinds of work to which their studies may lead, and we believe strongly that among the kinds of diversity we invite and cultivate in the program, diversity of career has a prominent place. Our Futures and Outcomes pages illustrate this range.

Job Placement Resources: the following are a few links to sites where jobs in our field are listed. An excellent guide to Doctoral Student Career Planning, written for faculty but equally valuable to students, is available from the MLA. Two Princeton PhD’s, Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius, have written an excellent complementary guide to taking the PhD outside the academy, So What Are You Going to Do with That?