Was there ever a time in American history when there was greater interest in a humanities PhD, say, a PhD in Philosophy or Creative Writing, than a STEM PhD?

Perhaps during the period of time before computers were invented / widely used for computations?

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    There has been strong hiring of chemists (and other fields like physics, metallurgy) by industry since at least 1900. I think it is the possibility of industry jobs that makes the job market better for STEM. I don't think computers per se are the key aspect but just our general industry in chemistry, mineral, electronics, steel, etc. – guest Jan 25 '19 at 2:29
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    Would you count something like law or theology as humanities? Historically, those were the most important subjects in universities. And law is still a well-paid profession. – Thomas Jan 25 '19 at 7:41
  • I would consider law, medicine, and probably MBA as professional graduate degrees and a different thing than either a humanities or science Ph.D. For one thing, the coursework is much stronger and research weak or nonexistent in professional degrees. And visa versa for Ph.D.s. That said, getting a professional degree (especially law or business) is a good course of action to being well paid, for humanities majors. Low math hurdle. – guest Jan 25 '19 at 16:50

While there may have been a time when the number of humanities doctorates outnumbered those in STEM, it was before 1957, at least in the US, according to this article

enter image description here

The number of non STEM doctorates has been pretty constant while the number of STEM doctorate has grown since the 60s. Given the difference in growth rate, it is possible, even likely, that at some time before 1957 there were fewer STEM doctorates.

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    Totally off-topic, but I hate this type of graph. I can never tell whether the areas or the lines represent the actual quantities; and even then, are the areas stacked in front or on top of another? Looking at the lines, there seem to be less STEM doctorates than non-STEM doctorates. Looking at front-stacked areas, it's the same. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jan 25 '19 at 13:36
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    @henning the text of the article says there are more stem and hence they are top stacked. I agree I don't like the graph, but it is what they used. – StrongBad Jan 25 '19 at 13:42
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    Nice data. If someone could find it, it'd be very interesting to see the graph extended back to at least the Manhattan project, which likely marks at least a change in the difference in growth rate. – Anyon Jan 25 '19 at 13:52
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    @StrongBad, sure no criticism of your useful answer implied. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jan 25 '19 at 14:27
  • I suspect a lot of the recent growth has to do with the massive, MASSIVE funding of life sciences. It is very easy to get "cure cancer" funding approved. Little harder for chemistry/physics/engineering. Would be interesting to see the green broken into life and not. (I also expect after WW2 and during the Cold War, there was large funding of physics, chemistry, engineering, at least versus pre WW2). But life science more recent boom. Not sure about humanities. Perhaps some social science funding boom also with govt programs. Lit and history...can go sit in the corner. – guest Jan 25 '19 at 16:55

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