Principal Findings and Implications
AT THE END of the day—or, more precisely, after more than a decade of the Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) and the research it generated— what have we learned about graduate education in the humanities? This chapter reviews our principal findings and spells out some of their main implications.
First we review the GEI's effects on the progress students made in graduate school and the unanticipated consequences of major changes in graduate funding. These findings inevitably raise questions about the likely success of future efforts to improve graduate education and its effectiveness. Since departments were central to the GEI effort, we then sketch out significant changes they experienced as participants in the Initiative—first, in how they supported graduate students and in reducing the size of entering cohorts and, second, in the efficacy of their graduate programs. We then touch briefly on received wisdom on a number of matters pertinent to our study: for example, the role that underfunding of graduate students plays in high attrition and lengthy degree times; the degree to which teaching interferes with graduate students' academic careers; whether women fare as well in graduate school as men; whether better jobs go to students who publish while still in graduate school; whether leaving graduate school presages career failure; and finally, what effects the difficult job market had on the subsequent careers of new PhDs. In the process, we note that received wisdom with respect to these matters is at best partially true. Then we emphasize observations that— regardless of the source of the data, type of analysis, or section of the book—we think have major implications for future efforts to improve the education of scholars. We conclude with comments on the fundamental questions: Did the GEI benefit graduate education in the humanities? Was the Initiative worth the considerable effort that went into it?
ON STUDENT PROGRESS
The GEI was a complicated, evolving intervention that affected students, faculty members, administrators, departments, and graduate education