The Cost of a Ph.D.: Students Report Hefty Debt Across Many Fields

A new crowdsourcing project provides an eye-opening glimpse into the hefty amounts of debt some graduate students take on to pay for their education and how hopeless many of them feel about their prospects for repaying it.

“Given the rate at which interest is capitalizing, I will clearly never be able to pay off this debt short of winning the lottery,” wrote a literature Ph.D. student who expects to graduate in 2015.

Karen Kelsky, who runs a consulting business and a blog called The Professor Is In, started the “Ph.D. Debt Survey” on Tuesday, and as of Wednesday night it already had drawn more than 1,000 responses. The respondents are anonymous.

Ms. Kelsky said she started the survey to prove a point. In a blog post she wrote about a session she attended during the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting last week, Ms. Kelsky said that Ph.D. programs were producing thousands of people burdened by six-figure debt. A reader of the post didn’t believe that kind of debt load was possible—particularly for someone earning a doctoral degree in the humanities, she said. <Read more.>

Via Audrey Williams June, The Chronicle of Higher Education.