Median Number of Years from Start of Doctoral Program to Receipt of Degree, by Academic Field, 2004–2020Back to table of contents
Median Number of Years from Start of Doctoral Program to Receipt of Degree, by Academic Field, 2004–2020
Little information is available about the amount of time spent in humanities master’s degree programs or how many do not finish their studies. For students earning a PhD, however, the federal government does gather information about the number of years to completion of a program. In each year from 2004 to 2020, the median for those who finished a doctoral degree was just under six years among PhD recipients generally, but the median among those earning humanities and arts degrees (data are not available for each field separately) is a year or more longer than in most other fields. Humanities PhDs have consistently taken longer than doctorate seekers in any other field, though the time to earn a doctorate in the humanities fell modestly from 2004 to 2020 (from 7.2 years to 6.8 years).8
- 8National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), Survey of Earned Doctorates. The values for time to degree for years 2003 to 2012 are derived from custom tabulations purchased by the Humanities Indicators in 2014. Starting in 2014, the Indicators’ method for calculating time to degree (as time in doctoral program) was adopted by NCSES, but they did not include a value for 2013 in any of their published reports. For the purpose of the figure, the value for 2013 is inferred from the two adjoining data points.