Hot Tips for Students in Art & Humanities and Science

Before you commit—or even apply—make sure the program profile matches your goals.

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Smart Choices

Think regional, says Scott Jaschik, editor of InsideHigherEd. With population spurts in Nevada, parts of California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida, colleges and universities are growing—and looking to hire. Community colleges are also growing, and they're a good fit for those who favor teaching over research.

Insider Tip

As a single mother in academe in the late '80s, Shirley Tilghman learned firsthand what it meant to juggle work and parenting. As president of Princeton University, Tilghman has set a standard for other institutions with friendlier policies toward graduates and postdocs with families. Benefits include a three-month maternity leave with extended deadlines, need-based child-care grants, and subsidized emergency-backup care. Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology also offer family-friendly packages.

Reality Check

Interested in teaching college? Faculty pay rose 3.8% last year, outpacing inflation for the first time in three years · In keeping with the current interest in all things global, available teaching positions in foreign languages rose from 1,591 to 1,660 while those in English declined from 1,793 to 1,720 · The number of Ph.D.'s awarded continues to grow, with 45,596 granted in '06 compared with 43,385 in '05. Of those, 15,947 went to noncitizens · The number of doctorates awarded by 2016-17 is projected to rise 10% for men and 54% for women over 2004-05 figures.

Sources: American Association of University Professors; Modern Language Association; national center for education statistics

Getting In

Make the Best Match. Before you commit—or even apply—make sure the program profile matches your goals. Meet with faculty, but talk to current students, too. Ask about study projects and job prospects. And remember: It's the reputation of the individual department, not that of the university as a whole, that bestows prestige on your degree—and, by extension, you.

Don't Get Stuck in Limbo. How long do you expect to remain in grad school? Science and engineering students take six to seven years, humanities grads need about 10, and about 19 percent drop out altogether by Year 4, according to the Council of Graduate Schools' Ph.D. Completion Project. Some universities, such as Brown, Harvard, and Princeton, hope to keep students by guaranteeing funding for five years. And a University of Washington study urges better career prep for teaching jobs in academe—and communication and other skills needed for jobs outside the university.