Sunday, April 13, 2014

Does Pedigree Matter?

It does, according to a recent study summarized by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. One of the findings, for example, is this: "[Those who earned their PhD from a top university] were 22 percent more likely than others to be employed by a research university."

Frankly, I am surprised that the correlation is not stronger.


  1. Anonymous said...


    The article doesn't spell out the specifics, but I guess for method, what they did was to take all PhD graduates of top universities vs. those of other universities, and then found their relative likelihood of being employed in a research university.

    In particular, I guess, they didn't do the inverse problem: Of those who are employed by a research university, what percent had had a PhD from a top university. Here, the percentage figure would be much higher, as expected by you. And, if you make it a top level research university (top 5/10), it would be almost 100%. MIT usually doesn't hire PhDs even from UCSD, let alone from UCDavies.

    The difference in the direct and the inverse problems would arise because many PhDs from top universities would not be working in any university at all, but would be employed (again, in relatively higher-level/more influential positions) in government research labs and funding agencies, industry (in R&D or even in management), and, of course, in software.

    IISc mechanical engineering department would be very enthusiastic in hiring a UoP graduate on their faculty, wouldn't they? ;-) ... And, IIT Kanpur's PhD graduates would be hired in the CFD/CAE software companies in Pune, wouldn't they? [GRRRRRR....]