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The Sciences

Survivor PhD: Graduate Student Edition

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumJanuary 9, 2009 11:04 PM


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Grad students are used to making tough choices, living on a small stipend, and facing an uncertain job market. But can they survive anticipated budget cuts at their institutions? Friends in PhD programs across the nation are reporting the same conversation is happening in pubs at various coordinates located near research universities:

Who won't be funded next year? Did you hear we're being encouraged to finish as fast as possible? How much of the school's endowment was lost? Did you get the email from the department? Thank God I'm almost done/Thank God I've got 4 more years/Thank God I'm in statistics. How will they dole out assistantships? Students who have had them in the past kept the department going, but don't those previously on fellowships also deserve the opportunity?

And on and on... I've already been hearing litany of egregious departmental decisions so my advice to chairs everywhere is to trim the expense accounts for invited speakers and holidays parties before you let the unfunded fifth years drop out.

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