A Closer Look

Ph.D. – Is five years to finish a humanities doctorate—coursework, comprehensive exams, dissertation— speedy ?

Welcome to academia, where five years to finish a humanities doctorate—coursework, Ph.D.comprehensive exams, dissertation—is considered speedy. So speedy that a new program at my alma mater has raised hackles for encouraging graduate students to finish in a half-decade. (It also foists upon its postdocs what is possibly the worst job title in academia. More on that in a bit.)

Irvine’s program, dubbed “5+2,” begins with increased funding for five years—about $23,000 per year, including summers. (Traditional fellowships and teaching assistantships vary, but usually pay less, and do not include summer funding.) Once the student has finished the dissertation, she receives a two-year “postdoctoral” teaching position within the university while she at last casts herself into a barren, jobless hellscape with completed Ph.D. in hand. The idea, according to School of Humanities associate dean James D. Herbert, is to shorten the time to degree while lengthening the odds of securing gainful employment afterward. Students have “a three-year window of optimal employment prospects,” Herbert told Inside Higher Ed. “So they’re better off applying from a real academic position rather than being a barista at Starbucks.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at UC–Irvine’s 5+2 program: A good idea, but the worst job title in academia..

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