The Graduate Education Mismatch
One of the common complaints about graduate education is that it provides the best training for jobs at research universities -- the very jobs many graduate students may never find as professors.
A study in the new issue of the journal PS: Political Science & Politics provides a great illustration of this problem -- in ways that may drive home some of the limitations of many graduate programs. But the study also found evidence that hiring departments -- even outside doctoral universities -- also value the sort of measures of research excellence that graduate education does stress.
The study was based on surveys of department chairs in political science who were asked about some of their preferences in faculty hiring. Would certain kinds of training of graduate students make those coming out of those programs more desirable as hires? The chairs in doctoral programs were also asked whether they offered those kinds of training to their Ph.D. students.
The results show that many hiring departments that do not offer doctorates would value the kinds of training that are far from uniform -- and in some cases rare -- in the departments training new Ph.D.'s. In almost all of the cases, skills related to teaching were much more valued at institutions other than those that train doctoral students.
Training vs. Hiring Priorities
|Type of Training||% of Graduate Departments Offering||% of Bachelor's Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty||% of Master's Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty||% of Doctoral Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty|
|Course on teaching undergraduates||45%||69%||66%||47%|
|Faculty mentor to train graduate students||45%||65%||55%||27%|
|Opportunity to teach intro courses independently||82%||97%||93%||88%|
|Workshops on teaching writing to undergraduates||49%||70%||68%||31%|
|Workshops on using simulations and film in teaching||20%||39%||20%||18%|
|Training as an undergraduate adviser||22%||56%||57%||14%|
|Workshop on how to retain students||8%||40%||23%||10%|
At first glance, the data would appear to reinforce the views of those who say that undergraduate oriented institutions are the ones these days that care about teaching, and consider teaching issues in hiring. But as the study notes, the researchers also found evidence that undergraduate institutions may be almost as focused on research output -- when it comes to faculty hiring -- as are graduate institutions.
The chairs were asked if three measures of research quality would make candidates more desirable to hire for faculty jobs.
Preferences for Faculty Hiring
|Research experience||% of Bachelor's Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty||% of Master's Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty||% of Doctoral Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty|
|Presented one or more papers at professional conferences||94%||98%||94%|
|Published one or more articles in professional journals||90%||93%||94%|
|Published one or more books||76%||86%||90%|
The paper on the study was written by John M. Rothgreb Jr., professor of political science at Miami University; Annemarie Spadafore, a graduate student at Miami; and Betsy Burger, an administrative assistant at Miami.