Friday, February 28, 2014

Adjusting the numbers: 5% of those accepted to a graduate school will get a tenure-track position eventually

Previously I claimed that about 20% of neuroscience postdocs eventually get tenure-track positions. (Link to the diagram). I also assumed that only 50% of graduate students make it to the end, and graduate with a PhD, which meant that for a fresh-new graduate student the probability of eventually, some day, getting a tenure-track position was about 10%.

Now it looks like I may have to correct these numbers down a bit. Still about 50% of PhD students graduate  with a PhD (link; the rest either drop out, or get a Masters), but the success in getting a tenure-track job was somewhat lower this year. In 2013-2014 season top universities got about 350+ applications; decent universities got about 300 applications. Total number of positions in neuroscience this season was probably about 40 (maybe 50), liberal arts colleges and small state schools included. It means that about 15% of those postdocs who looked for a position eventually got it. There were probably positions I didn't notice, but also some of those 300 candidates applying for positions were not postdocs, but more senior candidates, trying to move to a different place, or upgrade to a better institution.

Which leaves us with this estimation. 15% of postdocs who seek a tenure-track position now eventually get it. Because some postdocs probably get disillusioned earlier, and don't even bother applying, It should be a safe bet to assume that not more than 10% of mint-new postdocs would end up in a TT position.

Which means that not more than 5% of new graduate student will get a TT position.

Now, as it is a high time for graduate schools interviews, this is some number to discuss with prospective candidates. Are they OK with that? Do they realize what it means for them personally? Do they know their options?