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How Can We Improve American Science Education?

HOME / THE HIVE: American Science Education / It's not the students; it's the jobs

It's not the students; it's the jobs


Employment prospects for those with advanced scientific degrees are relatively bleak. Students typically invest 6+ years as in PhD studies, and often 2-4 more as postdoctoral researchers, before they have a serious chance at a scientific career, either academic or industrial. Most PhD advisors will have between 2-6 students at once, which is a rate of training far above replacement levels. Even if they find such a job, the pay is far below that of medicine or finance or intellectual property law, all of which poach many other possible scientists. Once a job is found, researchers still spend their lives scrambling over very scant resources, with funding rates from the major granting agencies running at less than 10%. We don't necessarily need more PhDs; we need more science jobs for those PhDs we already produce. This can be accomplished by the establishment of more research centers like the old Bell Labs, and reversing the trend of short term adjunct professorships that don't provide the stability needed for a long term career.

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