The authors conclude that the top PhD programs are serving their students ill, and I won’t necessarily argue with that. Academia is changing, and the path to tenure at a decent university seems more fraught with hard work and long odds than ever. But their analysis needs a heavy dose of realism–in particular, specification of what economists would call an objective function. If your goal is to be a tenured professor at a decent college or university, what would it take to succeed? And how likely is success if you can get yourself through a top 10 or 20 program? I don’t think Conley and Önder have really answered these questions.
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