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How many PhDs does society need?

To the editor: Leonard Cassuto overlooks the obvious solution to the oversupply of PhDs: Reduce the supply. ("PhDs need real jobs too," Opinion, Nov. 30)

Offering a few training classes to enable academics to adapt to nonacademic jobs may be helpful in the short run. But PhD programs have expanded far beyond the capacity of normal outlets for their specialized education.

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These programs, for the most part, are at their core intended to produce academics who conduct original research. Jobs outside universities or the few corporations and think tanks that hire them for research activity simply do not require the type of education provided by current PhD programs.

Universities may be able to offer more and better professional training programs instead of PhDs. This is happening to some extent in certain disciplines, like my own, where geography departments have created programs in geographic information systems and other geospatial technology, and where graduates readily find appropriate employment in well-paying jobs.

Of course, research universities do not want to reduce admissions to PhD programs because it means fewer PhD students to supervise, and therefore fewer research-oriented professor positions.

Bryan Baker, Apple Valley

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