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Placement Service Data (midway through the 2020-2021 academic year)

As we did last year, we are releasing a set of preliminary data from the SCS Placement Service. These data include numbers from the beginning of the Placement season in late Summer 2020 up to March 17, 2021 when the last portion of Placement Service data was downloaded.

This report contains vital information about the classics job market. Please read all the way to the end, in which I conclude with some notes about how COVID-19 has affected the market this year and what we can do moving forward.

Below is a summary of our findings for an at-a-glance sense of how the placement year is progressing. Obviously these numbers represent an interim snapshot of the placement year. COVID-19 has made a major impact on job postings and prospects, as described in more detail later in this report.

There were 216 candidates who filled out candidate profiles on our website this year with at least their names (320 last year), and 370 people were signed up to receive email notifications via the Placement Service listserv, compared to 535 last year and 610 the year before. Do note that, in order to fully comply with GDPR, we only require an email address from Placement Candidates; all other information is voluntary, which has led to a decrease in full responses over the years and has inevitably affected the data. Email subscriptions took a sharp decline this year, likely in response to a nearly frozen job market in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This corresponds, naturally, with a decrease in the quantity of data overall for the year, which has implications I will discuss at the end of this report. Percentages below refer to the number of people who answered the demographic questions asked, not the percentage of 216 total possible respondents who could have answered.

The mode (i.e. the most popular answer) in each category analyzed describes a married (39.5%), white (90.5%), male (49.1%), who is a US Citizen (82.9%) with his Ph.D. from the University of Washington (4.8%); he is currently a full-time non-tenure track teacher (38.5%) researching Latin literature (30.8%), and using the Placement Service for the first time (34.7%) to apply for over 20 jobs (30.9%). He has published 1-2 articles (39.8%) but has not yet published a book (78.8%)

Non-tenure track faculty continue to represent the majority of job seekers (52.9%), with graduate students being the next largest category (27.9%).

There are a few missing "Candidate Race" variables (i.e. Aboriginal Peoples (Canada), American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander) because no candidates who filled out their profiles self-identified as those races. Again, this category is optional, and so does not likely present a comprehensive view of candidate racial breakdown.

Job Ads [Assessed as of March 18, 2021]

There were, as of April 2nd, 39 contingent faculty positions (adjunct/part-time, and non-tenure track, up to and above 12 months) and 19 tenure-track or tenured positions posted on the Placement Service, with 6 being classified as “open.”

At 64 total jobs, this year represents a cut of over half of last year’s 135 total jobs, a devastating blow representative of worldwide hiring freezes caused by the pandemic. Noteworthy also is the drop in percentage of total jobs being tenure or tenure-track, from 40.0% last year to 29.7% this year, a ratio that traditionally trends even closer to zero as the hiring season heads into the Spring semester.

It remains true from the last two years that categories regarding job rank and specialty have increasingly become less and less useful to describe the types of jobs that are being placed on the job board. Institutions now tend to post either a Generalist position or write in their own specialty to match a specific need at their university, rather than classify the desired research specifications of their desired applicant. Similarly, universities have taken to redefining job rank so that titles are no longer so firmly tied to the type of position. In other words, an “assistant professor” no longer indicates a tenure-track position 100% of the time, and the same goes for other ranks. This has been creeping into the data for the past few years, and I have decided to no longer include position type in the written report, as it is getting less and less meaningful than simply reporting the actual responsibilities expected in a job. Anyone wishing to access this information can analyze it for themselves from the raw data downloads included in this report.

Post-Meeting Placement Service Survey, Candidates (87 respondents, 52 providing detailed responses) [Assessed as of March 23, 2021]

Note that a significantly smaller placement service listserv led to a disproportionally smaller number of respondents, down from 182 last year with 88 providing detailed responses.

Rather than focus on demographic information from the survey this year, I’d like to highlight some of the COVID-related changes to the AIA/SCS Placement Service that our members commented on.

First, a majority of respondents (57.7%) did not receive any COVID-related financial assistance from their institution or workplace, and an additional 15.4% both saw no assistance and experienced a reduction or halt in overall benefits.

Respondents were quite supportive of the fact that more jobs on the Placement Service were not professional academic positions. Only 3.9% disliked this change.

To compensate for a reduced job market we began Career Development Seminars, a way for adjuncts and graduate students to hear from classics graduates who are now working outside of academia and learn about new industries. A minority of respondents (38.5%) participated in these seminars, but most all respondents were aware of the program. A larger number said they would participate through the Spring if they were offered (53.9%), but small attendance numbers does bring the continuation of this programing into consideration. If readers of this report find the Career Development Seminars to be a useful addition to the Placement Service please do make your support known.

Interviews at the Annual Meeting

For the first time in quite a while there were no interviews at the annual meeting as it was not held in-person.

This trend may continue even if we are to return to some semblance of in-person meeting for 2022, as mentioned in this previous report.

Placement Service Responses to Survey Comments and COVID Notes

Comments this year largely reflected the scarcity of the academic jobs as well as a generous understanding by Placement Service users that the Service operated as best it could under the circumstances.

I wanted to make a few comments regarding this report and the market generally. This year saw a massive dip in responses, likely because not many people signed up for placement when the Service opened in July amid a pandemic. Rightly, they saw a bad year for the market and chose to not participate.

What this means on a more macro scale is that the number of classicists looking for jobs did not decrease (we have no indication that graduation rates dropped sharply over the past year), but the number of people reporting to us did drop. This means our numbers are simply not representative of the current group of candidates on the market. I would venture to say that most of the demographic information collected this year is not useful for assessing what the field looks like. I hope that anyone tracking this information over time will take the additional effort to factor in these considerations when looking at this year’s numbers.

As for the market, we knew that this was going to be a bad year. What remains to be seen is what the rebound looks like. Will there be a slow, steady addition of jobs like we saw in the years following 2008, or will it be swifter, due to the more directly accessible cause of this year’s drop? Or will administrations see the opportunity to close out more positions and keep the number of faculty low moving forward?

What is certain is that we must redouble our efforts to enable and empower classics graduates to look elsewhere for work. The Career Development Seminars were one step in that direction, but unfortunately we face large obstacles in expanding those efforts further. There are a great many comments on the survey asking the SCS to post more jobs on the Placement Service, including those outside of the academy. This is easier said than done. One way this goal could be achieved would be in the massive uptick in attendance at Career Development Seminars. A seminar attended by 50+ graduate students lets me (as well as the presenter and their institution) know that classicists are ready and willing to explore elsewhere. This makes it much easier for me to make a recruitment pitch to these types of industry professionals, to let them know that qualified and eager academics want to work with them. If attendance continues to be relatively low, however, I cannot make such an argument.

The venture into a diverse array of job prospects for classics graduates must be enabled by the AIA/SCS Placement Service but simultaneously sought out by those same graduates. It cannot be enough to explore, consider, or debate; non-academic employment must be pursued. That pursuit allows me to create more programing with the safety and knowledge it will be well-attended. Should the interest seem to falter, I will assume the programing isn’t wanted, and move on to other methods and initiatives.

The first step for those interested in looking beyond the academy should consider joining the Career Networking for Ancient and Classical Studies LinkedIn group: This group represents the SCS's increased commitment to ensuring that all career options are not just encouraged and available for Classicists, but are accessible, both in terms of learning how to find these opportunities and in making helpful connections with those already in these fields. Another story in this Newsletter provides more detail about how to network on LinkedIn successfully.

Final Notes

More data about the job market will be made available at the end of the Placement Service year, which coincides with the end of the academic year.

If you have any suggestions for the data that you would like to see or the way in which these data are presented, please contact or reach out to the Placement Service Coordinator Erik Shell at