Hat tip to Tyler for leading me to this feature.
This is an excellent article about doctoral degrees and how some Humanities programs can encourage their doctoral candidates and the faculty advising them to expedite their graduation process. Here is a snippet from it:
For doctoral students, the clock is always ticking. How many years of fellowship support do you have left? How long can you delay starting a family or bringing home a real paycheck? How old do you want to be while still being a student? How many good jobs will disappear before you have a Ph.D.?
But what about the professors who supervise doctoral work? Does the clock tick for them enough to motivate them to be realistic about dissertation expectations, to be sure to get comments back on that chapter draft, and to both encourage and prod their Ph.D. students to the finish line?
A series of new policies in the humanities and the social sciences at Harvard University are premised on the idea that professors need the ticking clock, too. For the last two years, the university has announced that for every five graduate students in years eight or higher of a Ph.D. program, the department would lose one admissions slot for a new doctoral student. The results were immediate: In numerous departments that had for years had large clusters of Ph.D. students taking eight or more years to finish, professors reached out to students and doctorates were completed.
The life of a doctoral student is a mentally taxing and intense one. Much work needs to be done while life is also happening simultaneously. It's a big juggling act. Life appears to be in limbo which, to me at least, was a big incentive to be done as soon as possible.
While some of us have had very supportive advisers without whose help we would not have been able to finish as fast we we did, others might not have the same luxury. However, that's where policy comes into place. The Harvard example is indeed an encouraging one for all parties involved. And I am pretty sure that candidates generally speaking pine for academic closure.