We recently had a discussion about the issues surrounding the process of getting a PhD in the US and thanks to the AIP's Statistical Research Center, here's an illustration of a strong argument in favor of fixing the system. First, let's look at the trends in enrollment of 1st year grad students at PhD-granting departments:
Now look at the number of PhD's granted over a much longer time period, although let's focus on the last ~15 years:
Now let's look at the number of tenure-track faculty hires over the last decade:
anecdotal evidence from my department that showed about 30% of PhD's from 2000 to 2005 had tenure-track faculty positions.
That means that of those student's starting a PhD program at your university this year only roughly half will get their PhD and only about 13% will get a PhD faculty position. Of course all programs are not created equal, but the averages don't lie.
So in the grand scheme of things, we are (a) doing a poor job getting people through the existing PhD programs and (b) preparing people for jobs that a large fraction of those that do make it through will never have.