For Ph.D. students in the humanities, the median time to graduation is nine years. Worried that spending years and years in graduate school harms students’ pocketbooks and career prospects, Brandeis University is trying a new lever to move students through their programs: tying a coveted dissertation fellowship to a promise that the student will finish in a year.
Doctoral students at Brandeis who receive highly selective, dissertation-year fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will now be required to sign a “commitment agreement” with their departments, which carries several conditions.
The fellows, typically in their sixth year, are awarded the one-year grants, which this year will provide each student with $35,000, cover the full cost of tuition, and pay for health insurance. In return, the fellows must agree to work full time on their dissertations, abstain from outside employment, participate in regular seminar meetings, and submit progress reports.
The student’s adviser is also required to sign the form. Doing so ensures that professors who are crucial to helping students finish are aware of the specific terms to which the fellows have agreed.<Read more.>