January 31, 2009

Reasons to finish that dissertation

A new research report seems to suggest that social science doctorates who finish their degree earlier are more likely to land tenure-track jobs (perhaps not so easy this year, though!)  Inside Higher Ed reports “Those doing the hiring view “time to degree” (fairly or not) as an indicator of quality. . . . The findings can suggest inappropriate considerations (favoring younger candidates) or skepticism about whether someone taking a long time to finish a dissertation may also take a long time to finish a first book or other research projects. . . . Other findings from the new analysis support the idea that graduate programs need to spend more time on helping graduate students prepare for their careers — not just their dissertation defenses. In surveys of Ph.D.’s wherein they evaluate their programs, those who finished doctorates sooner than others were more likely to give “excellent” rankings to both their mentoring and training and also to “professionalization” activities, which include programs to prepare graduate students for careers (both finding jobs and being socialized into academic life).”

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