Initiatives implemented for post-enrolled graduate students

Nov. 19, 2002 3:49 p.m.

A committee charged with looking at issues related to the post-enrollment period for doctoral candidates has recommended a set of initiatives intended to ease the transition and help them finish their degrees.

"The University is committed to the goal of helping students complete their degree within the enrollment period," wrote Provost Amy Gutmann in a memo to department chairs and directors of graduate studies. "The University also recognizes that a sizeable fraction of students do not complete their degree within their enrollment period, and that there is room for improvement in our practices across departments."

The Post-Enrollment Committee was formed last spring at the request of President Tilghman. Members included directors of graduate studies, graduate students and other administrators, including several from the Graduate School.

Gutmann, who chaired the committee, noted that while the time to earn a doctoral degree at Princeton has increased -- as it has at universities across the country -- the amount of time generally remains shorter than at peer institutions. Since the mid-1970s, the average time to earn a doctoral degree in the United States has increased by about 1.5 years. Today, the median time from matriculation to receiving a Ph.D. at Princeton is 6.2 years, compared to a national average of nearly seven years.

Associate Provost Jed Marsh, who served on the committee, attributed the shorter time to degree, in part, to the unique structure of graduate study at Princeton. Graduate programs at Princeton, unlike most other institutions, have a fixed period of enrollment. During that enrollment period, the University provides generous fellowship support and limits teaching requirements in order to facilitate degree completion.

According to Marsh, approximately 190 students this year are affected by the status change, which was made retroactive to Sept. 1, 2002. He expects the number will remain fairly steady at 150 to 200 students each year. He noted that one-quarter to one-third of these students currently complete their degrees within a year.

The full story is available in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601