History professor openings increase

Student seeking job opportunities in the present are looking to the past. For the first time in 15 years, openings for history professor positions in 2004-2005 exceeded the number of doctorate degrees awarded, according to Perspectives, the American Historical Association magazine.

The increase in available jobs is a result of the baby-boomer generation that created the need for more classrooms and teachers in the 1950s and 1960s, said Ken Stevens, the history department chairman.

Now the children of baby boomers are in college so that leads to the need for more professors, Stevens said.

“A lot of historians are drawn to teaching,” Stevens said, “because it’s a profession that allows them to continue to engage in something they love doing and to communicate with others.”

The vast majority of history graduates teach at four-year colleges, and these are the positions that are becoming available, said Peter Worthing, director of the history graduate program at TCU.

TCU granted three history doctorate degrees and eight history master’s degrees last year – which is typical, Worthing said.

In 1985, there were about 450 college and university positions available for historians, and there were about 550 doctorate degrees granted that year, according to AHA. In 2004-2005, there were about 950 job openings for history professors and about 840 doctorate degrees granted, according to the AHA study.

Dana Cooper is working on her doctorate in history at TCU and said she is hoping to teach at a four-year college or university after graduation.

Cooper said the job market for historians is competitive because there are so many students seeking history doctorate degrees in the United States, concentrating on American History, which she is studying.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education Web site, Africa had the greatest increase for history jobs in 2004-2005 at 92 percent. North America had a 9 percent increase.