Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Age and end time for the PhD...

A study mentioned in Inside Higher Ed reports that the mean time for students to complete a PhD from completing a bachelor's degree is 10.1 years. Supposedly, this is a slight improvement. The average age someone receives a PhD is 33.3 years, also down from a previous report.

While I agree that the time it takes to receive the degree is far too long, I don't see much wrong with graduating older students. In my pedagogy class last year, our instructor, who is now the interim Dean of our J-School, Tom Bowers, said that schools in general do look for older students when they are filling new positions. That did not sit well with the younger students in my co-hort, but it made me feel better about my life choices. Maybe academia in general should get over the notion that only young people can enter PhD programs--I can tell you from personal experience that I've seen the benefits to some of us old folks getting one, too.

About program length, my program is 3-years and assumes that you already come with your master's degree, so the total time from bachelor's to PhD is 5 years. This seems speedy compared to the sciences, and there are times I'd like to catch my breath, but it is one of the reasons I was drawn to the program. I'm not here to waste time--I'm here for a purpose--to get my PhD. I know what I want to do and getting the degree is just the beginning of my life in academia, not the end. Heck, by the time I graduate, if I plan to retire at 70, I'll still have a good 25-26 years left to teach.


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