Published Date

January 1, 2004

Resource Type


AHA Topics

AHA Initiatives & Projects, Graduate Education, Teaching & Learning

American Association of Universities, Committee on Graduate Education. “Report and Recommendations.” October 1998.

Barzun, Jacques. “The Ph.D. Octopus.” In Teacher in America, 175-93. 1945. Reprint, Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1981. Barzun repeats William James’s attack on the “three-letter fetish,” arguing that good research and good college teaching are separate skills and that it is pernicious (not to mention counterproductive) to combine them into one degree. His sympathies are with the teachers who are forced to muddle through a Ph.D. when their true desire is to teach.

Bent, Henry E. “Professionalization of the Ph.D. Degree.” Journal of Higher Education 30:3 (March 1959): 140-45. Bent rehearses the history of “confusion with regard to the professionalization of the Doctor’s degree … [arising] in part from uncertainty as to the meaning of the terms involved.” The Ph.D. has many uses, and he resists any effort to restrict it to being a teaching and research degree. Yet he notes that “the most important reason for seeking to change the training for the Ph.D. degree arises paradoxically from the fact that the degree carries with it such great prestige [outside the academy]” (143). Bowen, William G., and Neil L. Rudenstine. In Pursuit of the Ph.D. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. An essential study built on exhaustive statistical data. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate,” This project focuses on doctoral education at the site for creating “stewards of the discipline.” Conrad, Clifton F., Jennifer G. Haworth, and Susan B. Millar. A Silent Success: Master’s Education in the United States. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. The best available study of master’s degrees.

Council of Graduate Schools. “The Role and Nature of the Doctoral Dissertation: A Policy Statement.” October 1997. Available online at

Geiger, Roger. “Doctoral Education: The Short-Term Crisis vs. Long-Term Challenge.” The Review of Higher Education 20:3 (1997): 239-51. Includes a number of very useful tables that show changes over time in enrollments, numbers of degrees awarded, fields, and costs of graduate study.

Ghali, Moheb A. “Return of the Masters.” CGS Communicator 35:7 (August-September 2002): 3-4, 6, 10. Ghali, dean of the graduate school at Western Washington University, calls for a reinvigoration of the research-oriented master’s degree as a gateway to doctoral study.

Glazer, Judith S. “The Doctor of Arts: Retrospect and Prospect.” In Preparing Faculty for the New Conceptions of Scholarship. Edited by Laurie Richlin. 15-26. Special issue of New Directions for Teaching and Learning 54 (summer 1993). A brief history of the Doctor of Arts degree, which was introduced in the 1960s as a teaching-centered alternative to the Ph.D. Hollis, Ernest V. Toward Improving Ph.D. Programs. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1945. A historical document with continuing relevance. Includes a statistical analysis of the entire cohort that received Ph.D.’s in the 1930s, a discussion of what employers in education, government, and industry said they wanted in a new Ph.D., and a list of suggested reforms. The report was funded by the ACE’s Commission on Teacher Education and is particularly critical of doctoral students’ preparation for college teaching.

James, William. “The Ph.D. Octopus.” Harvard Monthly 36:1 (March 1903): 7. Frequently reprinted and still relevant a century later.

Jencks, Christopher, and David Riesman. “Professionalism and Its Consequences: The Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences.” Tri-Quarterly 11 (1968): 197-218. A longer version of the authors’ argument appears in The Academic Revolution (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968). Jencks and Riesman worried that “the nation’s colleges have been corrupted by vocationalism” (197). Many of their points are still valid, even though they wrote them at a time when “the academic graduate schools [were] the primary force for growth within the modern university” (216).

Menand, Louis. “How to Make a Ph.D. Matter.” New York Times Magazine, September 22, 1996, 78-81. Recommends a “smaller” (three years, no teaching, perhaps not even a dissertation) and more flexible Ph.D. that would prepare students for a range of careers outside the academy.

Nelson, Cary, and Michael Berubé. “Graduate Education Is Losing Its Moral Base.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 23, 1994, B1.

Nyquist, Jody D. “The Ph.D.: A Tapestry of Change for the Twenty-first Century.” Change 34:6 (November-December 2002): 12-20. An excellent overview of the current state of reform efforts in doctoral education, written by the principal investigator for the “Re-envisioning the Ph.D. Project” at the University of Washington (where Nyquist serves as associate dean of the graduate school). The print article should be read in conjunction with the “sidebars” posted on the project’s Web site. The online appendixes include a list of recent studies of graduate education, a synopsis of the various recommendations offered by these studies, and some specific examples of reform in action. The entire “Re-envisioning” Web site, is a valuable resource.

Snell, John L. “The Master’s Degree.” In Graduate Education Today. Edited by Everett Walters. 74-102. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1965. An important overview of this neglected degree, drawing in part on Snell’s work as research director of the AHA’s Committee on Graduate Education a few years earlier. Part of this essay focuses specifically on history graduate programs.

Stewart, Debra. “The State of Graduate Education.” Presentation to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, February 20, 2000. Stewart is president of the Council of Graduate Schools.

Storr, Richard J. The Beginning of the Future: A Historical Approach to Graduate Education in the Arts and Sciences. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973. In this report, prepared for the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, Storr combines a brief history of the development of graduate training in the United States with a philosophical discussion of the proper ends of graduate training (as a “vehicle of inquiry”). Chapter 6, “The Meaning of Degrees,” includes a thoughtful discussion of the master’s degree in relation to the doctorate.

Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “The Responsive Ph.D.” Available at

Ziolkowski, Theodore. “The Ph.D. Squid.” American Scholar 59:2 (spring 1978): 177-95. Yet another take on James’s famous metaphor, written by the dean of the graduate school at Princeton. His main concern is the time to degree for doctoral students, especially in the humanities.

———”The Shape of the PhD: Present, Past, and Future.” ADE Bulletin 97 (winter 1990): 12-17.

The History of Graduate Training for Historians in the United States

Bender, Thomas. Intellect and Public Life. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. Among other topics, Bender discusses the early years of doctoral education for historians at Columbia and other institutions (see chapter 4).

“The Breadth of Current Graduate Programs.” AHA Newsletter 8:6 (September 1970): 3-9. Fascinating results from a pair of surveys conducted by the AHA Committee on Ph.D. Programs in History, one directed to a random sampling of historians, the other to department chairs. Especially significant is the discussion of graduate fields.

Conacher, J. B. “Graduate Studies in History in Canada: The Growth of Doctoral Programmes.” Historical Papers of the Canadian Historical Association (1975): 1-15. Canadian developments closely paralleled those on the United States.

Cronin, E. David. “Doctoral Programs in History: A Report.” AHA Newsletter 7 (June 1969): 6-11. Describes the activities of the AHA’s short-lived Committee on the Status of the Ph.D., which attempted to promote a series of acceptable standards for history doctoral programs.

Ellis, Elmer. “The Profession of History.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 38:1 (June 1951): 3-20.

Fite, Gilbert C. “Not So Long Ago—Reminiscence and Review.” The Historian 46:4 (summer 1984): 491-502. Fite’s 1983 presidential address to the Phi Alpha Theta honorary society, in which he reviews the history of the profession from the 1940s to the 1980s and includes pointed observations on changes in graduate education, especially the expansion of graduate programs in the 1950s-1960s.

Freidel, Frank. “American Historians: A Bicentennial Appraisal.” Journal of American History 63:1 (June 1976): 5-20. This was Freidel’s Organization of American Historians presidential address, which he devoted to the “problem of the Ph.D.’s” (i.e., the worsening job crisis). He suggested both supply-side solutions to the problem (encouraging the larger graduate programs to voluntarily restrict the size of incoming cohorts of students) and demand-side solutions (developing new employment opportunities in secondary education, public history, the business world, and government work—including a call to lobby Congress for a “new WPA” to provide temporary work for recent Ph.D.’s).

Herrick, Francis H. “The Profession of History.” Pacific Historical Review 31:1 (February 1962): 1-20. In this presidential address to the Pacific Coast Branch of the AHA, Herrick discussed the training of future historians and the expansion of Ph.D. programs as two (among many) issues facing the profession. Noting that “we do not train historians to be independent practitioners, [so] the doctorate should assure [sic] a reasonable expectation of an academic appointment,” he warned his colleagues to “look critically at any proposals for expansion of graduate enrollment” (7-8).

Hesseltine, William B., and Louis Kaplan. “Doctors of Philosophy of History: A Statistical Study.” American Historical Review 47:4 (July 1942): 765-800.

Holt, W. Stull. “The Education of Historians in the United States.” American Historical Review 68:2 (January 1963): 402-6.

———”Si jeunesse savait; si veillesse pouvait.” Clio 8:2 (winter 1979): 267-74. Holt, a former editor of the American Historical Review, reflects on six decades of the historical profession. Included is a pointed comparison between the new Ph.D.’s of the 1920s and the new Ph.D.’s of the 1970s; in his view, the overexpansion of Ph.D. programs in the 1950s-1960s diluted the quality of the degree. He suggests that the AHA ought to accredit doctoral programs as a way of improving the quality of graduate education.

Jernegan, Marcus. “Productivity of Doctors of Philosophy in History.” American Historical Review 33:1 (October 1927): 1-22.

Lyon, William. “The Great Debate Over Traditional Graduate Education, 1960-1975.” Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 5:2 (fall 1980): 118-28. Among other things, Lyon addresses the introduction of the Doctor of Arts as a specialized teaching degree, noting that the D.A. was never warmly embraced by the historical profession.

Meneely, A. Howard. “Graduate Training in History.” Social Education 5:1 (January 1941): 31-36. Meneely, who taught at Dartmouth, addresses recurrent problems in the history of graduate training in a paper he originally delivered at the 1940 annual meeting of the AHA: “One hears it argued that there is excessive specialization, overemphasis upon research, too much of the belt-line method and too little supervision in training graduate students, a failure to equip them properly for the kind of teaching that they must do, and an insufficient effort to limit the production of degree-holders to somewhere near the demands of the academic market.”

Novick, Peter. That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Though not explicitly concerned with graduate training, this history of the profession necessarily touches on doctoral education at various points.

Perkins, Dexter, John L. Snell, et al., The Education of Historians in the United States. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962. The predecessor of the current report.

“Report of the Third Conference on American History Held under the Auspices of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, February 2 and 3, 1950.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 74:2 (April 1950): 178-296. The conference included: (1) a comparative session, during which the panelists discussed the graduate training of historians in the Iberian countries, Germany, England, and France; (2) a session on “American Methods,” during which Dexter Perkins laid out some of the themes that would guide his work as chair of the AHA’s Committee on Graduate Education in the late 1950s; and (3) a session on the institutional impediments to real reforms in graduate education. Despite the attendance of some of the nation’s leading historians (nearly all from the leading research institutions), this conference seems to have had little impact.

Rundell, Walter, Jr. “Clio’s Ways and Means: A Preliminary Report on the Survey.” The Historian 30:1 (November 1967): 21-40. Reports on a nationwide “Survey on the Use of Original Sources in Graduate History Training.”

———In Pursuit of American History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

———”Researching the American Past for Relevance.” History Teacher 4:4 (May 1971): 44-51. Notes a growing discontent among graduate students about the intellectual narrowness of history doctoral programs and advocates more-rigorous training in historical methods and a greater attention to “current social conditions” and problems when selecting dissertation topics. ———. “Southern History from Local Sources: A Survey of Graduate History Training.” Journal of Southern History 34:2 (May 1968): 214-26.

Snell, John L. “Teaching History in the Colleges.” The Historian 23 (1960-61): 405-17. An extension of Snell’s work as research director of the AHA’s Committee on Graduate Education.

Turner, James, and Paul Bernard. “The German Model and the Graduate School: The University of Michigan and the Origin Myth of the American University.” In The American College in the Nineteenth Century. Edited by Roger Geiger. 221-41. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2000. A brief but critical introduction to the nineteenth-century origins of U.S. graduate education, describing how American educators reshaped German models of graduate pedagogy to suit local needs and traditions.

Webb, Walter Prescott. “The Historical Seminar: Its Outer Shell and Its Inner Spirit.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 42:1 (June 1955): 3-23. Webb’s presidential address to the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, in which he reflected on the history of the seminar as a training mechanism for future historians. He concluded that “a great deal of attention has been paid to the external characteristics, the outer shell, and not so much to the inner life and spirit of the historical seminar…. [But] the great seminars have been animated … not by any method but by the inner purpose, the great program, and the dominating idea of him who conducted it” (3). He is thinking here, primarily, of a “history seminary” in the Herbert Baxter Adams tradition.

Histories of Individual Graduate Programs in History

Abadie, Dale, et al. “Memories from the Bull Pen and Lincolnland.” Louisiana History 41 (2000): 203-15.

Anderson, Eugene N. “A New Graduate Program in History.” Social Education 3:5 (May 1939): 324-26. Describes the rationale behind the creation of a new doctoral program in history at American University.

Cuban, Larry. How Scholars Trumped Teachers: Change without Reform in University Curriculum, Teaching, and Research, 1890-1990. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999. Chapter 3 focuses on the Stanford history department, but with scant attention to the graduate program.

Department of History, San Francisco State University. “SFSU Department of History: Brief History.”

Fischer, LeRoy H. “Instruction, Research, and Extension: The History Department at Oklahoma State University.” Chronicles of Oklahoma 61 (1983): 48-67.

“Graduate Program in History.” Higher Education 4:3 (October 1, 1947): 32. Announces the creation of a new doctoral program in American history at the University of Rochester, designed to emphasize “the preparation of effective future college teachers, rather than research specialists or scholars in restricted fields.”

Hicks, John D. “My Years as a Graduate Student.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 47:4 (summer 1964): 279-90. Reminisces about the graduate program at the University of Wisconsin in the years just before World War I.

Katznelson, Ira, and Louise Tilly. “The Committee on Historical Studies—The Graduate Faculty, New School for Social Research.” Radical History Review 36 (1986): 134-36. Describes the creation of “an interdisciplinary social science history [graduate] program” at the New School in 1984.

Leopold, Richard W. “‘Not Merely High Scholarship but High Character and Personality’: The Harvard History Department a Half-Century Ago.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 95 (1983): 114-25.

Rea, Robert R. History at Auburn: The First One Hundred Years of the Auburn University History Department. Auburn: Auburn University History Department, 1991.

Rosenhaupt, Hans. Graduate Students: Experience at Columbia University, 1940-1956. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958. A cross-disciplinary review of graduate education at Columbia during these crucial years, with extensive data on the history department.

Strickland, Arvarh E. “The University of Missouri-Columbia History Department: Training Scholars in the Black Experience.” Missouri Historical Review 95:4 (2001): 413-30.

Tillapaugh, J. “The Master of Arts Degree in History, 1975 to 1995, at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.” Permian Historical Annual 35 (1995): 59-69.

Winston, Michael R. The Howard University Department of History, 1913-1973. Washington, D.C.: Department of History, Howard University, 1973. Reprinted in part in the July-December 1998 issue of the Negro History Bulletin.

Graduate Student Demographics, Retention, and Attrition

Association of American Universities. Institutional Policies to Improve Doctoral Education. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Universities, 1990.

Association of American Universities/Association of Graduate Schools Project for Research on Doctoral Education. “Doctoral Student Enrollment Trends in English and History Programs at Selected AAU Institutions, 1992-1995.” Program Profiles 3:2 (December 1997): 1-4.

Atkinson, Roark. “Gleaning the Chaff: New Studies Report High Attrition Rates in Graduate History Programs.” OAH Newsletter 27:3 (August 1999): 13.

———”Measuring Performance in Graduate History Programs.” OAH Newsletter 29:2 (May 2001): 1.

Hoffer, T., et al. Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities: Summary Report 2000. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, 2001. Results from the annual “Survey of Earned Doctorates.”

Ehrenberg, Ronald G., and Panagiotis G. Mavros. “Do Doctoral Students’ Financial Support Patterns Affect Their Times-to-Degree and Completion Probabilities?” The Journal of Human Resources 30:3 (summer 1995): 581-609. Abstract: “Data are used on all graduate students who entered Ph.D. programs in four fields [economics, English, mathematics, and physics] during a twenty-five-year period at a single major doctorate producing university [i.e., Cornell] to estimate how graduate student financial support patterns influence their completion rates and times-to-degree. It is found that completion rates, and the mean durations of their times-to-completion and to dropout are all sensitive to the types of financial support the students received. Other things held constant, students who receive fellowships or research assistantships have higher completion rates and shorter times-to-degree than students who receive teaching assistantships or tuition waivers, or who are totally self-supporting.”

Freeman, Damon W. “Minority Recruitment in the Historical Profession and Other Disciplines: An OAH Report. 1999. Available at

Golde, Chris M. “Beginning Graduate School: Explaining First-Year Doctoral Attrition.” In The Experience of Being in Graduate School. Edited by Melissa S. Anderson. 55-64. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.

Heard, Alexander. The Lost Years in Graduate Education. Atlanta: Southern Regional Education Board, 1963. An analysis of doctoral education in the South during the 1950s, with a focus on why it took so long for most students to complete their doctoral dissertations. This document should only have a historical value, except that many of the factors that delay the time to degree have remained the same (lack of financial support, inconsistent supervision, etc.). Heard paid special attention to the extended dissertation period of history graduate students versus students in the sciences.

Hunt, Lynn. “Democratization and Decline? The Consequences of Demographic Change in the Humanities.” In What Happened to the Humanities? Edited by Alvin Kernan. 17-31. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Lovitts, Barbara E. Leaving the Ivory Tower: The Causes and Consequences of Departure from Doctoral Study. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.

Lovitts, Barbara E., and Cary Nelson. “The Hidden Crisis in Graduate Education: Attrition from Ph.D. Programs.” Academe 86:6 (November-December 2000): 44-50. The online version does not include important figures and tables.

National Research Council. The Path to the Ph.D.: Measuring Graduate Attrition in the Sciences and Humanities. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1996. Available at .

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies. Summary of Workshop on Graduate Student Attrition. NSF 99:314 (December 1998). Available at .

Nelson, Cary, and Barbara E. Lovitts. “Ten Ways to Keep Graduate Students from Quitting.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 29, 2001, B20.

Syverson, Peter D. “The New American Graduate Student: Challenge or Opportunity?” CGS Communicator 29:8 (October 1998): 7-8, 11.

———. “The New American Graduate Student, Part II.” CGS Communicator 29:8 (June 2002): 3, 7.

Townsend, Robert B. “The Status of Women and Minorities in the History Profession.” Perspectives 40:4 (April 2002): 16-19, 29.

Tuckman, H. P. “Measuring, Understanding, and Doing Something about the Rise in Doctorate Completion Time.” In Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Vol. 7. Edited by John C. Smart. 223-60. New York: Agathon Press, 1991.

Wright, T., and R. Cochrane. “Factors Influencing Successful Submission of Ph.D. Theses.” Studies in Higher Education 25:2 (June 2000): 181-95. Based on a study of several thousand graduate students. Concludes that the only “reliable predictor of successful submission [of a doctoral dissertation] within a four-year period [or] within a ten-year period was whether a student was researching a science-based or an arts and humanities-based subject.”

Graduate Student Expectations and Perspectives (Especially History Students)

Anderson, Melissa S., ed. The Experience of Being in Graduate School. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998. A good overview of current research.

Berry, Chad, Patrick Ettinger, Dot McCullough, and Meg Meneghel. “History from the Bottom Up: On Reproducing Professional Culture in Graduate Education.” Journal of American History 81:3 (December 1994): 1137-46.

Clermont-Ferrand, Meredith. “Happily Programmed by the Ph.D. Cult.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10, 2000, B5. A former graduate student in English, now an assistant professor, concludes that “in many ways, there is little difference between joining a cult and going to graduate school.”

French, Richard, and Michael Gross. “A Survey of North American Graduate Students in the History of Science, 1970-71.” Science Studies 3 (July 1973): 161-79.

Golde, Chris M., and Timothy M. Dore. At Cross Purposes: What the Experiences of Today’s Doctoral Students Reveal about Doctoral Education. Philadelphia: Pew Charitable Trusts, 2001. This study encompasses the views of more than four thousand graduate students in eleven fields, including 595 history graduate students. A summary of the findings is described by Scott Smallwood in “Survey Points to Mismatch in Doctoral Programs,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 26, 2001, A14. Golde also provides a closer analysis of history student responses in “The Career Goals of History Doctoral Students: Data from the Survey of Doctoral Education and Career Preparation,” Perspectives 39:7 (October 2001): 21-26.

Gross, Robert A. “From ‘Old Boys’ to Mentors.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 28, 2002. Online edition, . Gross reflects on his experience as a graduate student at Columbia (1967-72) and draws conclusions about better approaches to mentoring.

Guerra, Lillian. “‘Dumb Enough to Want to Get a History Ph.D.’: Views from the Trenches of Graduate Education.” Perspectives 39:6 (September 2001): 31-33. Based on an open forum with graduate students hosted by the AHA Task Force on Graduate Education (now the Committee for Graduate Students, which are now scheduled at every annual meeting of the AHA.

Harkins, Anthony. “Confronting the Crisis: A Graduate Student’s Perspective on the MLA Conference on the Future of Doctoral Education.” OAH Newsletter 27:3 (August 1999): 15.

Hinchey, Patricia, and Isabel Kimmel. The Graduate Grind: A Critical Look at Graduate Education. New York: Falmer Press, 2000. A Marxist/poststructural analysis of the inherent power relations in graduate education, with suggestions for reform through community building among graduate students. Beyond the rhetoric, this is a decent review of recent discussions of graduate reform, with a wholesome emphasis on restoring some humanity to the graduate training process.

Iaccarino, Anthony A. “Rethinking the Role of History Graduate Programs.” Perspectives 35:5 (May 1997): 38-40. At the time, the author was a graduate student at UCLA.

Ji-Yeon Yuh. “A Graduate Student’s Reflection on Studying Asian American History.” OAH Magazine of History 10:4 (summer 1996): 32.

Johnson, Linda Cooke. “The Historian Interviews Apprentice Historians.” The Historian 61:2 (winter 1999): 265-88.

Kowalsky, Daniel. “What I Saw at the Job Conference.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2001. Online edition, . A graduate student from the University of Wisconsin describes his discouraging encounter with the job market at the AHA annual meeting.

Lauck, Jon. “The History Crisis.” Modern Age 40:2 (spring 1998): 161-68. An American history graduate student laments the “methodical process of … destruction and corruption of historical inquiry” in the wake of the New History.

McWilliams, James. “Skipping the Nuts and Bolts of History.” Christian Science Monitor, December 12, 2000, 12. McWilliams, a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. history at Johns Hopkins University, complains that graduate study has too narrow a focus: “Even the best graduate students start off with a flimsy grasp of the past. However, instead of taking courses that initially promote a broad understanding of American history, we are quickly submerged in ‘historiography’ classes. These courses do not survey American history per se, but rather investigate how historians have argued over interpretations of narrowly framed issues.”

National Association of Graduate and Professional Students. 2000 National Doctoral Program Survey. In all, 1,221 current or recent history graduate students responded to this survey, and the Web site includes detailed results from every graduate program that had more than ten respondents. Results from a similar survey conducted in 1999 are described in Peter Fisk and Geoff David, “Results of the 1999 Graduate School Survey,” Making Strides 3:1 (January 2001): 6-8.

Schwartzberg, Beverly J. “Grass Widows, Barbarians, and Bigamists: Fluid Marriage in Late-Nineteenth-Century America.” CGS Communicator 35:5 (June 2002): 6. Schwartzberg, winner of the 2001 CGS/UMI dissertation prize in humanities and fine arts, reflects on her graduate student career at the University of California at Santa Barbara, emphasizing the importance of student-advisor relations and the significance of careers outside the academy.

Summers, John H. “Training for What? Issues in Graduate Education.” Perspectives 37:2 (February 1999): 51-52.

Young, Susanne Brown. “An Examination of Factors Influencing Job Satisfaction of Graduate Teaching Assistants.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Mississippi, 2001. A comparative study of job satisfaction among graduate teaching assistants (GTA’s) in English, biology, and history at sixteen southern universities. According to the abstract: “Findings suggest significant relationships between job satisfaction and several independent variables, including degree level, discipline, salary, teaching experience, and teaching load. However, no significant relationships were found between job satisfaction and training or course load. However, the amount of training and number of courses currently taken did not significantly influence job satisfaction of GTA’s. In addition, findings suggest that Master’s level GTA’s were more satisfied than Ph.D. level GTA’s. In addition, those working in the fields of biology and history were more satisfied than those working in the field of English.”

Graduate Student Debt and Financial Aid

American Council on Education. ACE Issue Brief: Student Borrowing in the 1990s. November 2001. Available at .

Choy, Susan P., et al., Student Financing of Graduate and First-Professional Education, 1999-2000: Profiles of Students in Selected Degree Programs and Their Use of Assistantships. NCES 2002:166. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2002. Available at . Especially valuable are the tables of data on student characteristics, types of financial aid, sources of financial aid, and employment while enrolled.

Hoover, Eric. “The Lure of Easy Credit Leaves More Students Struggling with Debt.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 15, 2001, A35. Deals primarily with undergraduates, but some of the analysis also applies to graduate students.

Nettles, Michael T., and Catherine M. Millett. “Understanding for Improvement: Finances, Experiences, and Achievements of Doctoral Students.” A major study of debt, financial aid, and graduate student decision-making funded by the Spencer Foundation and other agencies. Based on a 1997 survey of more than nine thousand students.

Smallwood, Scott Smallwood. “Stipends Are Key in Competition to Land Top Graduate Students.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 28, 2001, A24. Draws upon a survey of current (academic year 2001-2002) graduate stipends at the leading U.S. research universities. For the raw statistics, see (includes data on history and five other disciplines: biology, economics, English, mechanical engineering, and sociology).

Syverson, Peter D. “Data Sources: Loans, Employer Support Are Important Components of Graduate Student Financial Assistance, According to the Latest NPSAS Results.” CGS Communicator 35 (March 2002): 4, 6. Discusses results of the most recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (1999-2000).

Faculty Expectations, Mentoring, and Advising

Council of Graduate Schools. A Conversation about Mentoring: Trends and Models. Washington, D.C.: Council of Graduate Schools, 1995.

Damrosch, David. “Mentors and Tormentors in Doctoral Education.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 17, 2000, B24. After signaling the abuses of previous (and many current) advising arrangements, Damrosch urges that “all aspects of Ph.D. training can be opened up to foster more substantial interdisciplinary and collaborative work.”

Hine, Darlene Clark. “Making Connections.” OAH Newsletter 29:3 (August 2001): 11.

Katz, Philip M. “CGE’s E-mail Survey Focuses on Challenges in Graduate Education.” Perspectives 39:4 (April 2001): 11-15. Results from a survey of history department chairs in the United States and Canada in which respondents assess the most pressing problems facing graduate education in the discipline.

Magner, Denise K. “Critics Urge Overhaul of Ph.D. Training, but Disagree Sharply on How to Do So.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 28, 2000, A19.

Megill, Allan. “A Guide to Applying to Do Graduate Work in Intellectual History.” Fall 2000. Available at . One professor’s take on what graduate education means and how it should be pursued.

University of Michigan. “How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty at a Diverse University.” N.d. A model for this sort of handbook, with a very helpful bibliography.

Wright, Jean, and Rosie Lodwick. “The Process of the PhD: A Study of the First Year of Doctoral Study.” Research Papers in Education 4:1 (March 1989): 22-56. Based on a longitudinal study of doctoral students at Reading University (U.K.) but with results that are applicable in the United States and across fields. Addresses the significant role of social isolation in the graduate experience and suggests that strong advising can help overcome this obstacle. The best advisors, they imply, offer their students frequent supervision and a clear set of expectations, while helping them to establish good habits of time management.

Graduate Teaching in the Discipline of History

Bridges, Edwin, et al“Toward Better Documenting and Interpreting the Past: What History Graduate Programs in the Twenty-first Century Should Teach about Archival Practices.” See Ham, F. G., et al.

Cole, Charles. “Name Collection by Ph.D. History Students: Inducing Expertise.” JASIS: Journal of the American Society for Information Science 51:5 (March 15, 2000): 444-55. Describes research on the “technique[s] of information seeking” developed by graduate students as they become professional historians. Focuses on the practice of “collecting names” as a framework for developing research strategies and building historical knowledge. Based on research at universities in the United Kingdom.

Conklin, Alice. “From World-Systems to Post-Coloniality: Teaching the History of European Imperial Encounters in the Modern Age.” Radical History Review 71 (1998): 150-63. Describes a graduate seminar in world history at the University of Rochester.

Curtin, Philip D. “Graduate Teaching in World History.” Journal of World History 2:1 (spring 1991): 81-89.

Delgadillo, Robert, and Beverly P. Lynch. “Future Historians: Their Quest for Information.” College and Research Libraries 60:3 (May 1999): 245-59. Describes how history graduate students (in this case, at UCLA) learn to use libraries as part of their historical training. Footnotes lead to a large scholarship on the relation between historians and research materials.

“Doctoral Training in World History: What Changes in Ph.D. Programs Will It Require?” World History Bulletin 18 (spring 2002): 8-17. Based on a roundtable discussion at “World 2000: A Conference on Teaching World History and World Geography,” University of Texas at Austin, February 11-12, 2000.

Faragher, John Mack. “Tell Me What You See.” Common-Place 1:3 (April 2001). Available at . Describes Edmund Morgan’s famous American history seminar at Yale, which Faragher holds up as a model for graduate pedagogy.

Freehling, William W., Marian Vischer, and J. Patrick Mullins. “Toward a New Graduate Reading Course: A Dialogue between Teacher and Students.” Perspectives 39:2 (February 2001): 19-22.

Gerber, David A. “Rethinking the Graduate Research Seminar in American History: The Search for a New Model.” Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 13:1 (spring 1988): 8-17.

Ham, F. G., et al., “Is the Past Still Prologue? History and Archival Education,” and Edwin Bridges et al., “Toward Better Documenting and Interpreting the Past: What History Graduate Programs in the Twenty-first Century Should Teach about Archival Practices.” American Archivist 56 (fall 1993): 718-49. Both are reprinted in the pamphlet Historians and Archivists: Educating the Next Generation (1993), jointly published by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists. Should be read in conjunction with a special issue of The American Archivist 63:2 (fall/winter 2000) devoted to graduate archival training. These publications suggest a growing divergence between the graduate education of historians and of students in “allied fields.”

Hodes, Martha. “Explorations in Teaching Inspiration: A Seminar for Students Beginning Dissertations.” Journal of American History 84:4 (March 1998): 1439-46. Describes an innovative dissertation-writing seminar at New York University.

Manning, Patrick. “Doctoral Training in World History: The Northeastern University Experience.” Perspectives 37:3 (March 1999): 35-37.

———. “Methodology and World History in a Ph.D. Program.” Perspectives 30:4 (April 1992): 22, 24. Describes the introductory course in the world history program at Northeastern University.

Mooney-Melvin, Patricia. “In Quest of the Professional Historian: Introduction to the Public History Course.” Public Historian 9:3 (summer 1987): 67-79.

Mulligan, William H., Jr. “Electronic Resources and the Education of History Professionals.” History Teacher 34:4 (August 2001): 523-29.

Stearns, Peter N. “Adapting the Ph.D. Oral Exam: A Call for Discussion.” Perspectives 36:5 (May 1998): 27.

Stone, Lawrence Stone. “A Multidisciplinary Seminar for Graduate Training.” AHA Newsletter 6 (June 1966): 12-15. An account of the origins of History 500 at Princeton, an influential introductory course for doctoral students.

Professional Development

American Historical Association. “Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.” Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 2002.

American Historical Association, Ad Hoc Committee on Redefining Scholarly Work. “Redefining Historical Scholarship.” December 1993. Available online at . Draws upon the work of Ernest Boyer to advocate for a broader definition of professional activities and rewards for historians, both in and out of the academy.

Austin, Ann E. “Preparing the Next Generation of Faculty: Graduate School as Socialization to the Academic Career.” Journal of Higher Education 73:1 (January-February 2002): 94-122.

Boyer, Ernest L. Scholarship Reconsidered: The Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990. A landmark study that continues to spur discussions about the proper balance between research, teaching, and other professional activities within the academy.

Gaff, Jerry G., et al. Preparing Future Faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A Guide for Change. Washington, D.C.: Council of Graduate Schools and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2003. Summarizes the lessons learned from a decade of the Preparing Future Faculty project, especially the most recent phase of the project, which involved the close collaboration of the American Historical Association and five other disciplinary societies in the social sciences and humanities.

Gustafson, Melanie S. Becoming a Historian: A Survival Guide–2003 Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 2003. A brief guide to professional development for history graduate students, particularly useful for those who are planning an academic career.

Hata, Nadine I., ed. Community College Historians in the United States Bloomington, Ind.: Organization of American Historians, 1999. A detailed look at community college historians and their place in the discipline, though none of the essays focuses on the role of graduate departments in training new instructors for these institutions.

Hunt, Lynn. “Has Professionalization Gone Too Far.” Perspectives 40:2 (February 2002): 5-7. See also the responses published in the May 2002 issue.

Mooney-Melvin, Patricia. “Professional Historians and the Challenge of Redefinition.” See Schulz, Constance B.

Price, Clement A. “An Academic Life in the Public Sphere.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2002. Online edition, . While not directly concerned with graduate training, this historian at Rutgers University laments a culture of professionalism that is “creating a generation of scholars with stilted academic values and little impetus to offer our society the highly educated leadership and engagement it needs.”

Rayson, David, Edward L. Farmer, and Robert Frame. “Preparing Future Faculty: Teaching the Academic Life.” Perspectives 37:1 (January 1999): 14-15.

Schulz, Constance B., “Becoming a Public Historian,” and Patricia Mooney-Melvin, “Professional Historians and the Challenge of Redefinition.” In Public History: Essays from the Field. Edited by James B. Gardner and Peter S. 5-40. LaPaglia. Malabar, Fla.: Krieger, 1999.

Schulz, Constance B., et al. Careers for Students of History. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 2002. Discusses numerous career paths for historians, and includes interviews with prominent historians in all fields of history, both in an out of the academy.

Trower, Cathy A., Ann E. Austin, and Mary Deane Sorcinelli. “Paradise Lost: How the Academy Converts Enthusiastic Recruits into Early-Career Doubters.” AAHE Bulletin 53:9 (May 2001): 3-6. Draws on several recent studies to discuss the conflict between “doctoral student expectations and early-career faculty aspirations.”

Preparing History Graduate Students as Teachers

Black, Beverly, and Charles Bonwell. “The Training of Teaching Assistants in Departments of History.” History Teacher 24:4 (August 1991): 435-44. Includes useful suggestions for implementing (or improving) departmental training procedures for graduate student T.A.’s.

Bonwell, Charles C. “Teaching Assistants in the Discipline of History: Results of a National Survey.” Perspectives 24:9 (December 1986): 16, 18-19. Results of a survey conducted by the Committee on History in the Classroom at Southeast Missouri State University. Includes responses from 176 history department chairs about the use of graduate students as teachers in their departments.

Calder, Lendol, William W. Cutler III, and T. Mills Kelly. “History Lessons: Historians and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” In Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Exploring Common Ground. Edited by Mary Taylor Huber and Sherwyn P. Morreale. 45-67. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, 2002. Crowe, Daniel E., and Leslee K. Gilbert. “What Is a TA?” Perspectives 35:8 (November 1997): 30-31. Poses an important question but does not fully answer it.

Curzan, Ann, and Lisa Damour. First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student’s Guide to Teaching. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. Among the most recent in a long line of how-to manuals.

Diamond, Robert M., and Peter J. Gray. 1997 National Survey of Teaching Assistants. Syracuse, N.Y.: Center for Instructional Development, 1998. Based on a survey of T.A.’s at seven institutions, documenting changes from a 1987 survey administered at the same institutions. Illustrates the growing attention to teacher training during that decade.

Marincovich, Michele, Jack Prostko, and Frederic Stout, eds. The Professional Development of Graduate Teaching Assistants. Bolton, Mass.: Anker, 1998. The editors are all at Stanford, which boasts “one of the oldest faculty- and TA-development offices in the country.” While not explicitly addressing the challenges of teaching history, this is an excellent introduction to the state of the art in training T.A.’s. Marincovich’s essay, “Teaching Teaching: The Importance of Courses on Teaching in TA Training Programs,” 145-62, is especially useful.

Nyquist, Jody, et al., eds. Preparing the Professoriate of Tomorrow to Teach. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1991.

Oberly, James W. “Advice for Graduate Students Teaching the Survey Course.” OAH Newsletter 29:1 (February 2001): 7.

Rogers, Lindsay. “Neglected Aspects of Graduate Instruction.” The History Teacher’s Magazine 6:9 (November 1915): 271-72. Complains about the emphasis on research in doctoral programs, which comes at the expense of preparing graduate students to be future undergraduate instructors.

Seip, Terry. “We Shall Gladly Teach”: Preparing History Graduate Students for the Classroom. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1999. The single best source on training history graduate students as teachers. Includes an extensive bibliography.

Seller, Maxine. “The Training of the College History Teacher: A Teaching Division Survey.” AHA Newsletter 15:1 (January 1977): 6-8. Describes T.A. training and some of the Doctor of Arts programs available at that time.

Stearns, Peter, Peter Seixas, and Sam Wineburg, eds. Knowing, Teaching, and Learning History. New York: New York University Press, 2000. Provides an overview of the best recent work on history pedagogy at all levels of instruction. Robert B. Bain’s essay, “Into the Breach: Using Research and Theory to Shape History Instruction,” 331-52, argues that graduate training in history diverges from the sorts of historical instruction that are most effective in the secondary school classroom (history as a “discipline” versus history as a “subject”); he also implies that graduate education as presently conducted reinforces the gap between the academy and the schools.

White, Philip L. “Reflections on Forty-Odd Years of Teaching History and on Training Prospective Ph.D.’s to Do So.” The History Teacher 35:4 (August 2002), 465-72. Based on the author’s decades of teaching at the University of Texas, including an innovative graduate seminar for future college teachers.

Academic Employment and the Market for Historians

Note: Perspectives publishes a number of articles on the academic job market each year, only a few of which are listed below. These articles are archived on the AHA Web site, which also offers a variety of detailed statistics on the state of the profession.


Adams, Kathrynn A. What Colleges and Universities Want in New Faculty. Preparing Future Faculty Occasional Paper No. 7. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Council of Graduate Schools, 2002.

Bowen, William G., and Julie A. Sosa. Prospects for Faculty in the Arts and Sciences: A Study of Factors Affecting Demand and Supply, 1987 to 2012. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. An influential but errant projection of abundant job openings for faculty members starting in the 1990s.

Cahn, Peter S. “A Job Applicant’s Manifesto.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 21, 2002. The online edition is available at . An anthropologist and recent job-seeker discusses the need for greater transparency in the academic employment process and more realistic demands from employers. Cahn suggests that job applicants should spend more time comparing notes with other job applicants to prevent abuses by their potential employers.

Cartter, Allan. “The Supply and Demand for College Teachers.” The Journal of Human Resources 1 (winter 1966): 22-38. An unusually cautious (and accurate) project of faculty job openings in the late 1960s and into the 1970s.

Ehrenberg, Ronald G. “Studying Ourselves: The Academic Labor Market.” Presidential address delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Labor Economists, Baltimore, May 3-4, 2002. Available at . Ehrenberg pays special attention to the growing divergence between public and private universities.

McPherson, James M. “Budget Cuts and History Jobs: Many Problems, No Easy Solutions.” Perspectives 41:1 (January 2003): 5-6.

Nutting, Maureen Murphy. “Teaching History at Community Colleges: It’s a Job for Historians.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 30, 1998, B7-8.

Phillips, Carla Rahn. “Moral Fables and Cautionary Tales from the Job Market: Annual Report from the Professional Division.” Perspectives 36:4 (April 1998): 1.

Sharlet, Jeff. “Notes from the Underground: The Job Fair for Historians.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 19, 2001, A10. Based on interviews at the AHA job register. Discusses the “decline of the old-boy network, combined with the growing pool of job applicants.”

Townsend, Robert B. “Job Market Report 2001: Openings Booming … but for How Long?” Perspectives 39:9 (December 2001): 7-12.

———. “Major Gains in History, Still Marginal for U.S. History.” OAH Newsletter 30:1 (February 2002): 1-4.

Wright, Robert E. “A Market Solution for the Oversupply of Historians.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 12, 2002, B20.

Should Doctoral Programs Downsize?

Franklin, John Hope. “On the ‘Oversupply’ of Graduate Students.” Daedalus 103:4 (fall 1974): 265-68. Like many historians, then and now, Franklin was concerned about a rush to shrink the size of graduate programs or curtail graduate admissions: “To discourage persons from pursuing graduate studies in the manner and for the reasons that some of us are doing at the present time is to make presumptions that are, at best, untenable…. When one offers advice designed to discourage an aspiring young scholar, he may be placing serious intellectual as well as psychological obstacles in the path of someone who, a few years hence, may well contribute more to knowledge than the ‘wise counselor’ himself” (265).

Lombardi, John V. “Colleges Shouldn’t Be Employment Agencies.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 16, 1999, A64. The president of the University of Florida weighs in against restricting the output of graduate students.

Magner, Denise K. “Doctoral Programs Decide That Smaller Is Better.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 26, 1999, A12.

Rhodes, Frank H. T. The Creation of the Future: The Role of the University. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001. See especially chapter 7, “Professional and Graduate Education.” The former president of Cornell argues that “each college, program, field, and department should develop a rolling, comprehensive plan of graduate enrollment targets, based on available financial support, faculty numbers and expertise, facilities available, and a responsible assessment of the ‘job market.'”

Scott, Frank, and Jeff Anstine. “Critical Mass in the Production of Ph.D.’s: A Multi-Disciplinary Study.” Economics of Education Review 21:1 (February 2002): 29-42. Analyzes the comparative viability of doctoral programs of different sizes in four disciplines. According to the abstract, “In history, a large number of very small programs exist, producing less than five Ph.D.’s per year…. Size and quality ranking are positively correlated in economics, history, and physics, but no such relationship is apparent in psychology.” The authors also suggest that “unless history Ph.D.’s can be efficiently produced in very small programs, then the production pattern of the 1980s [and 1990s] cannot persist” (36).

Reports on Doctoral Education from Other Disciplines

Note: This is a small selection from a rapidly growing body of literature. The “Re-envisioning the Ph.D.” Web site maintains a current bibliography.

American Studies

Palmer, Aaron J. “Report of the 2001-2002 ASA Survey of Doctoral Recipients in American Studies.” ASA Newsletter 26:1 (March 2003): 1, 3. Previous results from this annual survey are archived on the ASA Web site at (under “Research”).


Givens, David B., Patsy Evans, and Timothy Jablonski. “1997 AAA Survey of Anthropology Ph.D.’s.” September 2000. Available at .


Hansen, W. Lee. “The Education and Training of Economics Doctorates: Major Findings of the Executive Secretary of the American Economic Association’s Commission on Graduate Education in Economics.” Journal of Economic Literature 29:3 (September 1991): 1054-87.


Conference on the Future of Doctoral Education. Special issue of PMLA 115:5 (2000).

Modern Language Association, Committee on Professional Employment. “Evaluating the Mission, Size, and Composition of Your Doctoral Programs.” December 1997. Poses a series of pertinent questions for departments in any discipline. Nerad, Maresi, and Joseph Cerny. “From Rumors to Facts: Career Outcomes of English Ph.D.’s—Results from the ‘Ph.D.’s-Ten Years Later’ Study.” CGS Communicator 32:7 (fall 1999): 1-12.


American Philosophical Association. Doctoral Education and Placement in Philosophy: What Philosophy Ph.D.’s Are Doing. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Association, 1998. Various data collected by the APA on the state of its discipline, including demographic and employment data on recent philosophy Ph.D.’s.

Schacht, Richard. “W(h)ither Graduate Study in Philosophy?” APA Proceedings and Addresses 71:5 (May 1998): 99-114.

Political Science

American Political Science Association, Committee on Education and Professional Development. “Department Responsibilities for Doctoral Programs and Employment in the Discipline.” 2001.


Miller, D. W. “New Psychology Ph.D.’s Enjoy Healthy Job Market, with Increasing Options Outside Academe.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 28, 2001 online edition only), .

Murray, Bridget. “The Growth of the New Ph.D.” Monitor on Psychology 31:10 (November 2000): 24-27. Available online at . Brings a disciplinary perspective to the general findings of the “Re-envisioning the Ph.D. Project.”


“The American Astronomical Society’s Examination of Graduate Education in Astronomy.” Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 29:5 (1997): 1426-65.

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995.


Hougland, James G., Jr., et al. Successful Practices in Master’s Programs in Sociology. [Report of the ASA’s Ad Hoc Graduate Education Committee, Subcommittee on Master’s Programs.] Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association, 1996.

Kelleher, Maureen, et al. Placement of Graduate Students. [Report of the ASA’s Ad Hoc Graduate Education Committee.] Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association, 1996.

Loscocco, Karen, et al. Teaching Graduate Students to Teach Sociology. [Report of the ASA’s Ad Hoc Graduate Education Committee.] Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association, 1996.

Pescosolido, Bernice A., et al. The Nature and Status of [the] Qualifying Examination in Sociology. [Report of the ASA’s Ad Hoc Graduate Education Committee.] Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association, 1996.

Pescosolido, Bruce A., and Donna K. Hess. Models for the Professional Socialization of Graduate Students. [Report of the ASA’s Ad Hoc Graduate Education Committee.] Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association, 1996.

Roy, William G., et al. What Do Directors of Graduate Education Do? [Report of the ASA’s Ad Hoc Graduate Education Committee.] Washington, D.C.: American Sociological Association, 1998.

Spalter-Roth, Roberta A., et al. “New Doctorates in Sociology: Professions Inside and Outside of the Academy.” Research Brief [ASA Research Program on the Discipline and the Profession] 1:1 (2000).