grad skool rulz in europe?

A reader asked me if I had received any feedback from students in European doctoral programs about the Grad Skul Rulz book. I have not, which is odd considering that many excellent sociology and management programs are in Europe. From out stat counter tool, we know that people in Europe and Asia regularly read the blog.

So, dear Europenb reader, what do you think the Grad Skool Rulz should say about doctoral education outside the US/Canadian context? Remember, the Rulz tend to be blunt and pragmatic.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 26, 2012 at 12:01 am

6 Responses

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  1. My Pinboard account says that I have bookmarked Rulz #14 (dissertation productivity), 23 (conferences), 25 (job market) and 26 (job talk). I bookmarked them because they read as good generic pieces of advice IMO. I believe, however, that European candidates would expect more about the pretty dismal state of the job market. The U.S. are probably in dire straits too at the moment. I don’t know enough about Canada.

    In a country like France, the academic job market for political science never goes over 15 appointments/year. The candidate pool is at least twenty times larger, the recruitment process tolerates endogamy (‘local’ hires), and some of the largest PhD-producing places hire almost no additional staff. I won’t even get started about the otherwise crucial elite schools/universities and public/private divides.

    Many European job markets are structurally small, further constricted by fiscal strain, and plagued by insider arrangements that rig the hire process. Transparency and equal opportunities suffer all the way, which is very frustrating for grad students who struggle to get money to travel at their n-th conference this year, hoping to level up with candidates who have been on the market for years and wrote two books.

    European universities are largely in crisis. The U.S. are certainly not exempt of that, especially perhaps at the moment with the budget crunch. My impression is the Grad School Rulz offer little insight in these politics of hard times, although they certainly count as a very pragmatic piece of knowledge about academia.

    My recommendation would therefore be to add some emphasis on local and state/national organization through societies and trade unions that can exert voice when things go out of control (disclaimer: I’m an active member of one of them). Grad schools have their own politics about funding, hiring etc. and some oversight from exterior observers is required to keep the system from humiliating a large fraction of the workforce (ask an adjunct, any adjunct).

    I would like to learn about how this works in North America, just as much as I think that European readers will gain to ask themselves what groups exist in their university or country to make the politics of grad schools fair to all.



    August 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

  2. I can only attest to what @Fr. is saying. As for German-speaking countries (i.e., Germany, Austria, Switzerland) we additionally see (post-)graduate education that is VERY different from the Anglo-American system. Doctoral candidates must have at least Master’s degree to begin with, there are hardly any formal course requirements, and most of them are involved in teaching/tutoring from day one of their research. Once you get you’re doctorate you may apply for a tenure-track position (junior professor, which only has been introduced recently), but the majority of Ph.D.s goes on the work on their Habilitation (usually a series of publications or another book after your dissertation) to get hired another 4-5 years after your Ph.D. right into a tenured position at (necessarily) another institution. VERY different, so grad skool rulz are fun to read and certainly feel like generally good advise, but have little value for those looking to stay in the European and especially in the German-speaking market.



    August 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  3. The main reason why Grad Skool is mostly just a nice read for European scholars might be indeed that the mechanisms of academic careers are quite different than in the US. It is changing now, but doctoral studies meant something else than attending grad school. Also, most of the researchers in the social sciences dropped out of academica after finishing their doctoral thesis.

    For an interesting personal account to the academic job market in Europe see Mathias Risse’s statement about is nearly appointment in Frankfurt:



    August 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

  4. Fr.

    August 27, 2012 at 7:02 am

  5. From a UK perspective, I am uncomfortable with the idea that there is a ‘European’ grad. school perspective as opposed the experiences of individual countries (what can I say, I am a splitter not a lumper). For example, the German speaking Habilitation is not a part of the UK process, and nor is there anything like the French ‘elite school’ emphasis (in terms of getting _academic_ jobs).

    Which is not to say UK academia does not have its own pathologies but rather that, like one of Tolstoy’s unhappy families, we are pathological in our own special way.

    That said the broad sweep of the grad school rulz are still relevant: publish, network, think ahead, think strategically. It’s the just the rules of the game are different.

    Liked by 1 person

    adam hedgecoe

    August 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm

  6. […] Consistently, I’ve been told that the Rulz aren’t very relevant to European academia. So I asked for advice. I got some good feedback on the differences between the US and Europe, but the comments […]


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