Brandeis Tries a New Tactic to Speed Students to the Ph.D.

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M. Scott Brauer for The Chronicle

Jason Gaines finished his Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis U. in six years, thanks to a Mellon foundation fellowship his final year. Officials want students to sign an agreement saying that, in exchange for the fellowship, they will abstain from taking outside jobs and finish in a year.

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M. Scott Brauer for The Chronicle

Jason Gaines finished his Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis U. in six years, thanks to a Mellon foundation fellowship his final year. Officials want students to sign an agreement saying that, in exchange for the fellowship, they will abstain from taking outside jobs and finish in a year.

For Ph.D. students in the humanities, the median time to graduation is nine years. Worried that spending years and years in graduate school harms students' pocketbooks and career prospects, Brandeis University is trying a new lever to move students through their programs: tying a coveted dissertation fellowship to a promise that the student will finish in a year.

Doctoral students at Brandeis who receive highly selective, dissertation-year fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon