Georgetown's "job-friendly" English PhD sparks debate

September 17, 2014

A proposed Georgetown University PhD program in English that has career preparation at its core has become a lightning rod for debate among faculty. The program is intended to help English PhDs become better prepared for non-academic employment, and to help the program stay relevant to the labour market. Students enrolling in the program would be asked to apply with a “plan of professional development in hand.” The program would also provide extensive mentoring and students would be able to complete alternatives to the traditional monograph-style dissertation, such as a digital-humanities project or a collection of essays. However, critics have variously charged that the program “cheapens” the value of the PhD, and that it is irresponsible of the institution to offer a new PhD program given the poor job market faced by graduates. One Georgetown professor described the program as “an advanced master’s,” not a PhD. One proponent, however, argued that “it’s good for the humanities to have humanists in positions throughout society. And it’s good for society to have people with humanistic training in all sorts of positions.” The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required) | Full Proposal