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Session 5 - Education.
Display session, Monday, January 13
The University of Texas at Austin has one of the largest astronomy graduate programs in the U.S. As of several years ago, there were over 50 students enrolled, although the current number is closer to 35. During the decade 1980-89, a total of 85 students entered the program, of whom 64 (75%) completed the Ph.D. About a third (33%) of the Ph.D. graduates currently hold postdoctoral positions in astronomy. (Note that the sample includes some students who received their degrees within the last four or five years.) Another 35% hold permanent (or tenure-track) faculty jobs or positions at government laboratories or observatories in the U.S.; if one includes those who hold such positions in other countries, the total rises to 45%. (Some of these were foreign students who returned to their country of origin.) The remaining individuals are supported by grants (``soft money'') or are employed by companies doing work mostly unrelated to astronomy. Examination of the job histories and experiences of this cohort gives us crucial, realistic information on the present-day job market and prospects for professional success for new Ph.D.'s in astronomy. This is extremely important at a time when the American Astronomical Society and the profession at large is re-examining the effectiveness and goals of current graduate programs in astronomy. I report here results from a survey of this large cohort of recent graduates, including such information as the average number of postdocs held, and average number of years between receiving the Ph.D. and finding a permanent position in astronomy.
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