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Publication Spotlight: 10/2019

Take a look at a recent Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs publication:

Doctoral Education and the Academic Job Market in Planning: 2018-2019 by Dr. Joanna Ganning and Georgina Figueroa

Document Type: Report

Publication Date: September 2019


This report presents the results from the second year of a planned three-year study on doctoral education and the academic job market in Planning. The Year 2 survey of doctoral programs indicates that programs graduated approximately 270 new PhDs in Planning or closely allied fields during the 2018-2019 academic year—an 8% decrease from the previous academic year. Programs report that approximately 66% of students enroll with aspirations for academic careers. Extrapolating from the survey data, this suggests that of the estimated 270 graduates during academic year 2018-2019, an estimated 179 preferred an academic position. Survey data indicates an estimated 111 graduates found academic positions following graduation. Put another way, approximately 62% of those graduates likely seeking an academic position found one. The number of new PhDs securing academic appointments roughly equals the number of academic positions open to new PhDs (105). However, a new question on the Year 2 survey suggests that job seekers encountered strong competition from faculty engaging in lateral moves. Supported by this and other evidence, we argue the 111 graduates securing academic positions are not filling the 105 identified as open to new PhDs plus six other unidentified positions; they are filling a smaller number of identified jobs and a larger number of jobs promoted outside the channels evaluated in this report.

Job announcements through ACSP and Planners 2040 were up slightly (5.3%) for positions beginning in Fall 2019 compared to the previous year. As in Year 1, the most popular specializations in job announcements were Environmental and Sustainability Planning and Transportation, Land Use, and Urban Design. Due to changes in both the coding protocol and database development, job specialization frequencies cannot be directly compared between Year 1 and Year 2 data. However, some trends are visible. Academic year 2018-2019 saw increased calls for applicants focusing on Social Equity, Health Care, and GIS/Big Data/Data Analytics. Other focal area changes are discussed in the report. The Year 3 report (to be released in 2020) is designed to allow the direct comparison of job specializations across years.

As expected, the survey results describing PhD programs are strongly similar between Years 1 and 2. As in Year 1, the 2018-2019 results indicate that in excess of 70% of doctoral students have teaching opportunities. Proctoring and grading remain popular teaching tasks. Curriculum design remains the least commonly reported teaching responsibility for PhD students, but was more popularly reported in Year 2 versus Year 1. The majority of PhD programs require students to produce publishable research, while actually requiring publication remains very uncommon.

In sum, the Year 2 results reinforce but moderate the Year 1 finding that the academic job market in Planning is competitive. There were fewer academic job openings than academically oriented graduates, and graduates face steep competition for those jobs from faculty engaging in lateral moves. Further, graduates generally have both teaching and research experience. Students will also find uneven job opportunity across specializations, with some seeing more postings than others.

To see all Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs publications go to our Engaged Scholarship page.