The amount of time it takes to earn a degree varies significantly, depending on many factors. From the type of course you’re taking to the college you attend, all aspects play a role in just how long it takes to graduate. On average, however, college students are earning their Ph.D.s in approximately 5.9 years. While reform efforts have been trying to shorten these time frames, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has found data indicating that some programs are taking much longer than others
Many believe that dissertation times are the problem. Dissertations are completed individually and on one’s own time. Students must also find funding for this portion completely on their own. With the extra work involved, people believe that this is the portion that makes the time to degree longer and is one central reason why ThePensters says custom dissertations is a rapidly growing industry. In the humanities field, however, which is said to have one of the longest degree routes, the time spent on dissertations actually meets the median range for all degree choices. It only takes approximately 3 years to complete a dissertation – on average
Reforms in Place
While the time to degree amounts are still unsettling to many, it has been found that current reforms in place have been working, at least to some extent. The results may not be tremendous, or anywhere close to where they should be, but progress is visible. In 2003, the average time to degree for humanities reached over 7 years. The average is now at 6.9. The longest time reported was for a Ph.D. in History, which took over 7.2 years in 2012. Since then, even that number has decreased slightly
Five-Year Humanities Ph.D. Movement
Five year plans are being recommended to universities. Professor of comparative literature and German studies, Russell Berman, is leading this movement, hoping to have colleges follow the recommendations being set. While teaching at Stanford University, Berman also helped produce an MLA report with the Modern Language Association. The report details how coursework can be streamlined to ensure shorter time frames for completing courses. This movement is mainly based in the humanities field, which takes about 1 year longer to complete than the average of other Ph.D degrees
The time it takes from starting college to actually earning a Ph.D. needs to be reduced significantly. While some reforms are already in place, more needs to be done to drop the time to degree average. Seven years is a long time to spend learning in one field. The Five-Year Movement is slowly being adopted by universities around the globe so students can put their degrees to work sooner.