Determining the perfect length of a Ph.D. program is an important issue that many of us struggle with. Because of this, Theologian Mom has designed an easy calculation to determine the perfect length of your doctoral program. Just follow these simple directions.
Begin with your age. (e.g. 28)
If you are married, add your spouse’s age. (e.g. 28+29=57)
Add the age of each child that you currently have. (e.g. 57+2=59)
If you are hoping you'll have kid(s) during the program, add 5 to the above sum. (e.g. 59+5=64)
Subtract the number of years of guaranteed funding. (e.g. 64-3=61)
If your spouse is the primary bread winner (and is willing to continue as such), add 10. If not, subtract 10. (e.g. 61-10=51)
If your spouse is not the primary bread winner, and you care about going into debt, subtract 10. (e.g. 51-10=41)
Add the total number of exams required for your program. (e.g. 41+4=45)
Now, divide by the total number of years it took you to get your masters and your bachelors degrees. (e.g. 45/8=5.5 years approximately)
According to this handy formula, 5.5 years is the perfect length for my doctoral program!
Of course, if somehow your calculation results in the exact amount of time it takes you to finish the program, you have probably made a mistake in the calculation. As it turns out, there is no “perfect” length. Some people (like that confused uncle who can’t understand why the heck you’re still a student) will think you have taken too long. Others (like a prospective employer) may think you completed the program too quickly for adequate scholarly formation. Some (like that toddler) will wonder when she’ll ever get to live in a place that has a yard. Others will wonder why you don’t have more footnotes…or why you don’t already know everything.
As for your own preferences on how long the program should take, forget it! Most of the forces are beyond your control. Besides that, your opinion is probably wrong.