How Many New PhDs Are There per Year?

Colleges in the United States award more than 60,000 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees every year, which has contributed to a glut of PhD holders when compared with the number of jobs that actually require a PhD. The trend is even more pronounced outside the U.S. — almost every Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country had about a 40 percent increase in the number of PhDs granted between 1998 and 2006, compared to about a 20 percent increase in North American countries.

More about PhDs:

  • While working as a graduate assistant, a PhD student in the U.S. can expect to earn about the same as a janitor — and less than one-fifth of what their professors make. This trend follows outside the U.S. as well. PhD students in Canada make about the same as construction workers.

  • About half of the science and engineering PhDs in the U.S. are granted to international students.

  • Fewer than 60 percent of PhD students in the U.S. will actually have their PhD 10 years after they first start working toward it.
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Discussion Comments


A PhD may be considered a qualification for teaching, but it is more significantly a process to assess new knowledge to determine if it passes scrutiny. Anyone who is talented enough to uncover worthwhile new knowledge should do so as a matter of civic responsibility. Doing so under the scrutiny of a reputable scrutinizing body will result in it being called a PhD or Doctorate (i.e., teacher).

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