Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities

By Ronald G. Ehrenberg; Harriet Zuckerman et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
The Influence of Financial Support

The availability of fellowships with fairly strict re-
quirements for a research timetable was of great
help in maintaining self-discipline.

—History student who entered in
1986 and completed PhD in 1993

MOST DOCTORAL students in the treatment and control departments receive financial support from their departments at some point during their programs.1 Such support takes a variety of forms, and its absolute level varies across students and departments. As we know, financial support is critical for both doctoral students and their departments. For students, it covers tuition and living expenses (or at least part of these) at a time when most are devoting their full attention to coursework and research.2 Moreover, the type and amount of financial support that students receive influence the skills in teaching and research they acquire during their doctoral studies and can facilitate productive interactions with faculty members. Departments use financial support to recruit and retain talented students in their doctoral programs, to meet teaching needs in their universities, to provide research assistance to faculty members, and to provide incentives for students to make timely progress.

Since the Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) was a major financial intervention and treatment departments spent the vast majority of the Foundation's grants on support for students, understanding patterns of financial support is closely tied to evaluating the effects of the GEI. One goal of the GEI was to provide funding, particularly at the dissertation stage. Another was to introduce financial incentives that would encourage students to make timely progress through doctoral programs.

1 According to the institutional database, 90 percent of students have some form of fi-
nancial support during at least one year in their programs.

2 The GES asked students whether they were ever registered or enrolled part time at
three stages of their doctoral programs. Overall, 8.4 percent of students were part time
while completing coursework, 8.6 percent were part time after completing coursework but
before completing exams, and 11.4 percent were part time after completing exams but be-
fore writing the dissertation proposal or prospectus.

-113-

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