The quality and quantity of talented members of the US STEM workforce has
been a subject of great interest to policy and decision makers for the past 40 years.
Recent research indicates that while there exist specific shortages in specific disciplines
and areas of expertise in the private sector and the federal government, there is no
noticeable shortage in any STEM academic discipline, but rather a surplus of PhDs
vying for increasingly scarce tenure track positions. Despite the seeming availability
of industry and private sector jobs, recent PhDs still struggle to find employment in
those areas. I argue that the decades old narrative suggesting a shortage of STEM
PhDs in the US poses a threat to the value of the natural science PhD, and that
this narrative contributes significantly to why so many PhDs struggle to find career
employment in their fields. This study aims to address the following question: what is
the value of a STEM PhD outside academia? I begin with a critical review of existing
literature, and then analyze programmatic documents for STEM PhD programs at
ASU, interviews with industry employers, and an examination the public face of value
for these degrees. I then uncover the nature of the value alignment, value disconnect,
and value erosion in the ecosystem which produces and then employs STEM PhDs,
concluding with specific areas which merit special consideration in an effort to increase
the value of these degrees for all stakeholders involved.
- The value of a STEM PhD
- Education Policy
- science education
- Graduate students in engineering--United States.
- Graduate students in engineering
- Graduate students in science--United States.
- Graduate students in science
- Graduate students--Employment--United States.
- Graduate students
- Scientists--Employment--United States.
- Engineers--Employment--United States.
- Doctor of philosophy degree--United States.