Indicator

The Relationship between Funding and Time to PhD

Share

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.

Copy link

* Time in doctoral program is measured as the difference between the month and year the doctorate was granted and the month and year the student started his or her doctoral program (or most recent master’s degree program, if the master’s was earned at the same institution as the doctorate).
** Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological and biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) offers researchers several ways of measuring “time-to-degree.” The survey yields data on both time since completing undergraduate studies and time since first taking a graduate course. The Humanities Indicators uses as the basis of its calculation of time to degree a third type of data supplied by the SED: the date the student began studies in the program that conferred his or her doctoral degree—or master’s degree, if earned at the same institution as the doctorate (see question A8 on the 2012–2013 questionnaire). The difference between this date and the date of doctorate completion yields a measure of time to degree that is not inflated by what for some students (especially those who earn their master’s and doctoral degrees at different institutions) are lengthy pauses between degrees.

Copy link

* Time in doctoral program is measured as the difference between the month and year the doctorate was granted and the month and year the student started his or her doctoral program (or most recent master’s degree program, if the master’s was earned at the same institution as the doctorate).

Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological and biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) offers researchers several ways of measuring “time-to-degree.” The survey yields data on both time since completing undergraduate studies and time since first taking a graduate course. The Humanities Indicators uses as the basis of its calculation of time to degree a third type of data supplied by the SED: the date the student began studies in the program that conferred his or her doctoral degree—or master’s degree, if earned at the same institution as the doctorate (see question A8 on the 2012–2013 questionnaire). The difference between this date and the date of doctorate completion yields a measure of time to degree that is not inflated by what for some students (especially those who earn their master’s and doctoral degrees at different institutions) are lengthy pauses between degrees.

Copy link

* The median estimated time in coursework and exams cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in Indicators II-29a and II-29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. (See “About the Data” for details.)
** Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological, biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

The median estimated time in coursework and exams cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in indicators II-29a and 29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. The question on coursework and exams reads “How many years were you taking courses or preparing for exams for this doctoral degree (including master’s degree if that was a part of your doctoral program)?” and asks respondents to round to whole years.

Copy link

* The median estimated time in coursework and exams cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in Indicators II-29a and II-29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. (See “About the Data” for details.)
** Life sciences includes agricultural sciences and natural resources; biological and biomedical sciences; and health sciences. Physical sciences includes mathematics and computer and information sciences. Social sciences includes psychology.
Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

The median estimated time working on the dissertation cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in Indicators II-29a and II-29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. The question on the dissertation stage reads, “After coursework and exams, how many years did you work on your dissertation (non-course related preparation or research, writing, and defense)?” and asks respondents to round to whole years.

Copy link

* The median estimated time in coursework and exams cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in Indicators II-29a and II-29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. (See “About the Data” for details.) “Letters” encompasses English and American languages and literatures, as well as creative writing and comparative literature.
** Differs from the “other humanities” category used in standard Survey of Earned Doctorates publications in that it excludes philosophy, religion/religious studies, and Bible/biblical studies.
Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

The median estimated time in coursework and exams cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in indicators II-29a and 29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. The question on coursework and exams reads “How many years were you taking courses or preparing for exams for this doctoral degree (including master’s degree if that was a part of your doctoral program)?” and asks respondents to round to whole years.

Copy link

* The median estimated time in coursework and exams cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in Indicators II-29a and II-29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. (See “About the Data” for details.) “Letters” encompasses English and American languages and literatures, as well as creative writing and comparative literature.
** Differs from the “other humanities” category used in standard Survey of Earned Doctorates publications in that it excludes philosophy, religion/religious studies, and Bible/biblical studies.
Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; a custom tabulation of SED data was prepared for the Humanities Indicators by NORC at the University of Chicago).

The median estimated time working on the dissertation cannot be directly compared to the total median time in program used in Indicators II-29a and II-29b because the questions about time in particular stages of doctoral study are worded differently. The question on the dissertation stage reads, “After coursework and exams, how many years did you work on your dissertation (non-course related preparation or research, writing, and defense)?” and asks respondents to round to whole years.

Back to Humanities Indicators
Share