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Doctoral Population in the Humanities

Distribution by Field

The estimated population of humanities doctorates in 1995 was 113,700. For this project the population was defined to include Ph.D.s who earned their degrees in a humanities field from a U.S. institution between January 1942 and June 1994 and who were age 75 or younger and residing in the United States in April 1995.

  • One-fourth of the humanities population was composed of doctorates in English and American languages and literature (see Table 1). Doctorates in history or art history accounted for another one-fourth of the population.
  • The next largest field was modern languages and literature at 16 percent. Also at 16 percent were the disciplines combined under the label "other humanities." The smallest distinct fields were art history (3 percent) and classics (2 percent).

Figure 1.

Humanities Ph.D. population, by field of doctorate, 1995.



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1 Doctoral Population in the Humanities Distribution by Field The estimated population of humanities doctorates in 1995 was 113,700. For this project the population was defined to include Ph.D.s who earned their degrees in a humanities field from a U.S. institution between January 1942 and June 1994 and who were age 75 or younger and residing in the United States in April 1995. One-fourth of the humanities population was composed of doctorates in English and American languages and literature (see Table 1). Doctorates in history or art history accounted for another one-fourth of the population. The next largest field was modern languages and literature at 16 percent. Also at 16 percent were the disciplines combined under the label "other humanities." The smallest distinct fields were art history (3 percent) and classics (2 percent). Figure 1. Humanities Ph.D. population, by field of doctorate, 1995.

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Demographic Characteristics In this section, humanities doctorates are described by such characteristics as gender, race, age, and citizenship (see Table 2). Gender Women comprised 35 percent of the U.S. population of humanities doctorates in 1995. The fields of art history and modern languages/literature had the highest representation of women (59 and 50 percent, respectively); only 17 percent of the doctorates in philosophy were women. The proportion of female humanities Ph.D.s grew from 17 percent of the group who earned their degrees more than 25 years earlier to nearly half of the doctorates from the most recent 5-year cohort (see Table 3). Figure 2. Field composition of humanities Ph.D.s, by gender, 1995.

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Race/Ethnicity The population of humanities doctorates was 94 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, and 2 percent Asian. As might be expected, modern languages/literature had the highest ethnic composition of the humanities fields. Hispanics constituted 11 percent of the doctorates in this field. The proportion of humanities Ph.D.s who were minorities grew from 3 percent of those who earned degrees more than 25 years earlier to 11 percent of the doctorates earned in the past 5 years. Age in 1995 Of all humanities doctorates, 28 percent were age 44 or under in 1995. Doctorates age 55 or older accounted for 35 percent. The youngest doctorates were in music: 43 percent were age 44 or under. History had the highest proportion of older doctorates: 41 percent were age 55 or older. Those with doctorates in classics and English were the second oldest, both at 38 percent age 55 or older. Year of Doctorate About 5 percent of all humanities doctorates received their degrees before 1960. Just over half received their degrees between 1960 and 1979, and 43 percent received their degrees since 1980. Music doctorates were most likely to have recent degrees, in keeping with their younger age distribution: only 2 percent received their degrees before 1960, whereas 62 percent received their degrees since 1980. Classicists were least likely to have recent degrees, in keeping with their older age distribution: 8 percent of classicists received their degrees before 1960, whereas only 35 percent received their degrees since 1980.

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Citizenship Status Only 3 percent of humanities doctorates were foreign citizens in 1995. Modem languages and literature had the highest proportion of foreign citizens (9 percent). Music, English, and philosophy had the smallest proportions (slightly less than 2 percent each). Ten percent of the doctorates earned in the past 5 years were awarded to foreign citizens, up from only 1 percent of those earning their degrees more than 25 years earlier.