Choosing a Doctoral Program, Pt. 2

By Readingingtheborderlands

Earlier I tried to convince you that you don’t really want to do a doctoral degree. Then, for the persistent, I began discussing how to choose a good doctoral program. Here are more things to consider.

  1. Your professional interests. What do you want to learn about? What do you want to research? It is very, very important that you attend a program that matches your interests. Think about the professional readings you’ve done. What authors really resonated with you? Where do they work? Do a literature search on your area of interest. Are there certain people who have written a lot on that subject? Where do they work? Explore the university website carefully and look at the course descriptions in the catalog. What appeals to you?
  2. What sort of funding is available? Most doctoral programs support their students financially to some degree. The student works as a graduate assistant or a research assistant and receives tuition reimbursements/stipends/scholarships/etc. I’ve had people tell me that a student should never go to any doctoral program that didn’t offer full funding.  I have mixed feelings about that statement, since I loved my program but certainly didn’t get full funding. However, the financial support you are offered certainly can influence your decision.
  3. Completion rates and time to graduation. How many students who enter the program actually graduate? How long does it take them? Low completion rates can mean that the program is not very supportive of its students. You really don’t want to be in that kind of program.

On additional comment. I’m seeing a lot of advertisements for online doctoral programs. Please be very cautious of these. I know online programs are going to grow in numbers and in quality, but at the moment the majority of them are nothing more than diploma mills. If you must attend an online doctoral program, make sure it is run by an accredited, respected university.


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