Sociology, Department of


First Advisor

Regina Werum

Second Advisor

Kristen Olson

Third Advisor

Julia McQuillan

Date of this Version

Summer 7-12-2019


Johnson, Andrea 2019. "The Perfect Match? Correlates of Job Placement Among PhD Earners." M.A. thesis, University of Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professor Regina Werum. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 2019

Copyright 2019 Andrea K. Johnson


Earning a doctorate in a field implies a strong desire to stay in that field, yet not all who earn a PhD do stay in their field. Therefore this study assumes that those who leave their chosen field do so either involuntarily or because of strong “pull” factors. Using the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (2015), this study examines a variety of factors that affect job placement among PhD recipients, specifically efforts to “match” doctoral field credentials with occupational outcomes. Analyses explicitly test classic assumptions underlying Human Capital Theory, while also taking into account demographic characteristics social capital differences. Findings indicate that demographic characteristics (such as gender, age and citizenship), human capital (including doctoral and bachelor field type) and social capital influence job placement. Institutional context also plays a role. Perhaps the most surprising finding is that approximately 40-45% of respondents find a job outside of their doctorate field of study, specifically those with doctorates in Biology, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Physical and Related Sciences, Social and Related Sciences and Engineering. Identifying these individual- and institutional-level factors helps understand both who is finding a job credential match and whether or not that match is a lucrative one.

Advisor: Regina Werum

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