Overspecialization is when a person works in an excessively narrow occupation or scientific field.[1]


In work

In the workplace, specialization of labor is used to divide up the workload in a manner that improves efficiency. However, holders of overspecialized positions tend to perform repetitive jobs, leading to boredom, dissatisfaction, and lower-quality output.[2]

In medicine

The breadth of medical knowledge has expanded vastly since the 1980s.[3] It has been argued that specialization is necessary in medicine to divide up the vast knowledge needed to tackle certain classes of diseases, such as cancer.[4] However, specializing too narrowly leads to poor training; unnecessary health care; low-quality care, especially in regions with poor medical infrastructure;[5][better source needed] and knowledge that can rapidly become outdated. Overspecialization detracts from physicians' ability to identify and treat problems in patients.[3] One proposed solution is to use databases that streamline the obtaining of necessary information and knowledge, while teaching medicine to a depth that the human mind can handle.[3]

In academia

Modern universities offer a large number of academic majors where students can pursue research. However, overspecialization is considered to be a serious problem in research because it prevents academics from assessing the relationship between different fields in order to solve certain problems.[6]

The Ph.D system has been criticized for encouraging overspecialization, which can leave students ill-prepared for corporate jobs.[7]


  1. ^ "Definition of OVERSPECIALIZE". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  2. ^ Adeyoyin, Samuel Olu; Agbeze-Unazi, Florence; Oyewunmi, Olatundun; Adegun, Adewale; Ayodele, Rafiu (1 January 2015). "Effects of Job Specialization and Departmentalization on Job Satisfaction among the Staff of a Nigerian University Library". Library Philosophy and Practice (E-journal). Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Papaioakeim, Miltiadis; Kaldoudi, Eleni; Vargemezis, Vasilios; Simopolous, K (November 2006). "Confronting the Problem of Ever Expanding Core Knowledge and the Necessity of Handling Over-Specialized Disciplines in Medical Education" (Proceedings of ITAB): 25–27. Retrieved 2 June 2020. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Donald W. Seldin (1978). "Specialization as Scientific Advancement and Overspecialization as Social Distortion". Biomedical Scientists and Public Policy. Springer US. ISBN 978-1-4613-2886-5.
  5. ^ Villet, R. (1991). "Overspecialization in surgery". Mémoires de l'Académie de Chirurgie (in French). 117 (3): 212–3. PMID 1797472. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  6. ^ "The dangers of overspecialization in academia". Big Think. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Rethinking the Ph.D." Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2020. John A. Armstrong, "Rethinking the PhD", originally appeared in Issues in Science and Technology.