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Will Moore (who posted the link first), Christopher Zorn and I have been tweeting about this. To me, this looks awful, given how the academic job market has been, especially of late. Will suggests this is a post 9/11 thing, which implies that more interest in government, government jobs and such may be playing a role here. Christopher suggests that the numbers include folks entering MPA programs--Master's in Public Administration. This depresses me further, because we have seen heaps of government job cuts the past few years.
What is going on? I have no clue, but the bump from 2008 to 2009/10 levels might be as folks flee the law school market. We know that one is collapsing. Overall, we have seen a near-doubling of people in MA/MPA/PhD programs in Political Science/Public Administration in a bit more than a decade. Does the Dept of Homeland Security require MA's? Department of Defense? Are these all new military officers needing some extra PME (professional military education) in the enlarged military?
I surely hope that this MA figure is really just that--MA figures and do not stand for a similarly upward trend in political science PhD students. That would suck bigtime for the profession. Given the stability in Anthro and Sociology along with the relatively steady increase in Econ students, it could very well be that the big change is at the MA level and not the PhD level.
Ah, too much and too little information all at once. Any better guesses than mine? And yes, that would be any guess.
A shot in the dark guess......course work only terminal MAs. No papers longer than 5000 words-useful for mid-career professionals and students trying to get an edge in the job market after failing to get into law school.
I have some evidence (mostly, my own institution) to suggest that MPAs have been trending DOWN over the last few years. MPA programs tend to serve two constituencies - state & local government and the nonprofit sector - both of which have taken serious hits in the current economy. So I doubt many of the numbers, at least over the last few years, have been from MPA growth.
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