Ph.D.’s from Yale’s Film & Media Studies Program: How are They Doing?

Yale’s Film and Media Studies has graduated 29 Ph.D.’s.  27 of these have been in the last ten years.  How are our students doing post-Yale?  Here is a brief statistical breakdown:

Dean: 1

Tenured Profesor: 1

Tenured associate professors:  3
Non-tenured, tenure-track assistant professors: 15
Post-doctoral fellows: 2
Visiting Assistant Professors: 3**
Film-related and/or university-level nonteaching positions: 3
               1 curator
               2 university administrator
               1 film industry professional
Lecturers (adjuncts, part-time): 2
Not currently employed: 1

Statistics need to be interpreted, and these can no doubt be interpreted in a number of ways. Roughly 69% of our graduates are in tenured or tenure track positions. Our students with three-year post-docs at prestigious institutions (Harvard Society of Fellows, and the Michigan Society of Fellows at University of Michigan) should be recognized for their impressive accomplishments that are as good as if not better than many tenure-track positions.  Visiting Assistant Professors and even adjunct positions may not be tenure track but these sometimes have virtues that many tenure track positions lack, at least in the first few years post-Ph.D.

Approximately 10% of our graduates have chosen jobs outside the tenure-track academic path, though having a Ph.D. from our program certainly benefits them professionally. Students in History of Art often choose a career in museums as curators––as is the case with one of our graduates (who was joint with History of Art). Another chose to take on a timely, important administrative role at Yale. A third has decided, at least for the moment, to work in the film industry rather than teach.

This snapshot of our students’ post-graduation accomplishments speaks well of them and our program. This does not mean that there aren’t areas for concern. The job market fluctuates over time, and the last decade has not been easy. There was a utopic moment before the pre-2008 financial crisis when getting a tenure-track job was relatively straight forward.  That brief moment was atypical.  Moreover, it should not surprise us that getting a job that can lead to a life-time of guaranteed employment (if one is not at University of Wisconsin or Catholic University of America) is difficult.

                                                            Charles Musser          
                                                            Professor of Film & Media Studies
                                                            Professor of American Studies and Theater Studies