To PhD or not to PhD

“So what’s next?” are the words that usually roll of tongues when I talk to people theses days. And for good reason. Having recently finished my masters degree, it is, well, time for something else. Just what that “something” is, however, remains to be seen. Two options exist, as far as I can see: continue on for a PhD, or work. My time at Queen’s University has almost certainly convinced me that I would like to get a PhD, it’s only a matter of when as far as I am concerned. Nevertheless, even if I could get in to a program, I have not been entirely sure I want to commit to another 4-5 years of academics. A break for several years sounds nice. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately) most deadlines for US doctoral programs in history are December and January. Indecision was not really a luxury.

So as of right now, I have applied for five doctoral programs. These programs should inform me by mid March if they have accepted me. Despite the encouragement of many, I am not holding my breath. Each program likely has 400-500 applications for anywhere from 4 to 20 positions. That’s what you might call “competitive.” But you can’t play unless you put your name in, so I have done my part.

Entering the working world is also a distinct possibility and I have been searching out a number of possible jobs. There are some interesting job options for a historian with a masters (and without): museum workers, archivists, research assistants, just to name a few. And of course, a plethora of jobs that require decent communication, writing, and research skills. The problem is that, here too, there are many people looking for work. I would imagine for any given job I’ve applied too, there are at least several dozen applicants for it. And since most companies are looking for someone with a year or two (at least) of experience, it’s a rather tough market to enter.

So time will tell. Thoughts and prayers are much appreciated!


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