Tag Archives: Stephen Mexal

Professional Jobs and Graduate Degrees

In earlier posts, I dissed the humanities ghetto and wrote this in particular about International Relations:

The obvious answer is that International Relations does not teach actually useful methods for the disciplined extraction of data. It does not teach critical thinking or logical reasoning. It teaches something that apes these skills, a rhetorical ability that impresses old scholars and does not help society.

International Relations is a non-progressive field where, by and large, it sucks to be young.

Because professors are driven by power, influence, and money, they harvest the few good job openings for those without useful skills into patronage networks, and push others aside.

Stephen J. Mexal, who Jason Heppler pointed me towards, apparently agrees:

SO SHOULD YOU GO to graduate school in the humanities? Yeah, sure, if you really want to. Why not? Just don’t expect it to have a predictable professional outcome. You cannot go to graduate school in the humanities and be placed into a job as a professor, a financial analyst, or as anything else. But graduate school in the humanities has always been this way.

So if you decide to go to grad school, remember that it’s not a place to escape the larger marketplace. You may think you are uninterested in capitalism, but capitalism is interested in you. The years that most students spend in graduate school are also prime years for building a career, and the opportunity costs of graduate school—the resources that could be spent pursuing other things—are steep, and must be taken into consideration.

Graduate school is a lot of fun. I have a PhD. I have many friends with advanced degrees in numerous fields.


But protect yourself. Get useful skills that you enjoy using. And get paid for using them.