Indicator

Years to Attainment of a Humanities Doctorate

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Obtaining a doctoral degree in any field involves a significant investment of time, energy, and monetary resources (to cover the cost of tuition and supplies; foregone earnings must also be considered), and in recent years, reformers in the humanities have focused on decreasing time-to-degree while preparing graduates for an array of career options beyond academia.1 As data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates show, the road to the Ph.D. is longer in the humanities than in other academic fields.

Endnotes

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

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 are lengthy pauses between degrees. 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.

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

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 are lengthy pauses between degrees.

II-27c: Median Number of Years Spent by Ph.D. Recipients in Their Doctoral Programs, by Field and Phase of Program, Graduation Years 2004–2012*

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* Estimates include years in master’s degree program if part of the doctoral program. Respondents were directed to report years taking courses or preparing for exams as whole, rounded years.

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).

This indicator is based on data yielded by a question asked as part of the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates (see item A12 on the 2012–2013 questionnaire). The question consists of two parts, asking “How many years were you: a. taking courses or preparing for exams for this doctoral degree (including a master’s degree, if that was part of your doctoral program)?” and “b. working on your dissertation after coursework and exams (non-course-related preparation and research, writing and defense)?” The responses were given in whole, rounded years. 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.

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