Everyone considering entering graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Humanities ought to read the article that appeared in today’s NYTimes Education Life supplement. It now takes, on average, 9.3 years to complete a Ph.D. in the Humanities. The average new Ph.D. is 35 years old and owes $23,000 in student loans.
I always try to advise students in very realistic terms about pursuing a Ph.D. Simply put, it isn’t the right path for everyone. Given the competition for admission and funding, and the tight job market once you’ve earned a degree, students should think long and hard about the decision. Generally, I strongly advise against taking out student loans to pay for Ph.D. work in Humanities. If you can’t get funding to pursue a Ph.D., and if you can’t pay for it out of pocket, you probably shouldn’t go.
Even with those strong words of caution, I still do encourage top students to consider graduate work and a career as a professor. It is a long road, but both the graduate work and the career as a college professor can be incredibly rewarding. Just make sure that you go into it with your eyes open!!