Report: History PhDs often spend less time at the coursework stage and more time at the dissertation stage

Historians in the News
tags: history crisis



The extended time-to-degree for humanities PhDs has received considerable attention in recent years, with a substantial focus on the relationship between particular types of funding (such as assistantships, loans, and personal earnings) and progress toward the doctorate. Drawing on data from the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), the indicators below show the variation in time to degree by the primary type of funding reported by doctorate recipients. Please note, however, that these indicators can only show a relationship between particular types of funding and time to degree. Determining whether that relationship is causal will require additional research. A particular type of funding may signal factors that cannot be identified from the SED but are more significant in determining time to degree—such as the quality of the student or the time he or she has available to work on the degree....

●  Among the individual humanities disciplines, the time spent at each stage of doctoral study fell within a year of the median for all funding types among 2011–2013 graduates (Indicator II-24e). PhDs in history stand out for having among the shortest median times at the coursework/exam stage for every type of financial support except one—personal/employer resources. In contrast, graduates in languages other than English had among the longest median times at this stage for three out of five types of support.

●  Only history PhDs reported a median time in the dissertation stage of four years for all funding types (except Other; Indicator II-24f). The median time for all other humanities disciplines was three years for most funding types. The exceptions were philosophy students who relied primarily on loans and students in philosophy or languages other than English who relied primarily on personal or family support, each of whom had a median overall time of four years.




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