Some background, I am a (mostly) stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 5. I teach as an adjunct at my local university, and I’m entering the third semester of my PhD program there in a humanities field this fall. My question, what are the advantages to completing a doctoral degree (relatively) quickly? Are their negatives to taking longer?
I ask because my motivations for entering the doctoral program were three fold; to complete a personal goal, to learn and research more about a field I love, and to obtain the needed credentials to teach as full-time faculty at my local university once my children have entered high school. Until that distant future date, I’m doing what I love, learning and teaching while still having time for family (I chose not to apply for degree funding as I can cover the costs personally and there is no direct financial need for me to work at this time due to my husband’s job).
Thus, part of me wants to simply take my time, enjoy my courses and dissertation research, focus on my teaching experiences and research opportunities as they come, and balance family obligations with less stress. However, another part of me is concerned that that approach could cause problems for me in the future when I’m seeking full-time academic employment (I’m not necessarily focused on tenure, a lecture position would do). I was full-time over summer, and I felt I had very little downtime with my kids and no real time with my spouse. We've made it work, and I could continue at that pace and just "get it done”, but why? I guess, if I’m going to opt out of time with my family and focus more ardently on the doctorate, I need to know there is an advantage to pursing it more single-mindedly.
I don't think it will make any difference how long you take. In the UK, people seem to be pretty understanding about people taking career breaks for kids etc so I don't see why it would be problem if you took longer to finish because you wanted a family life too.
You've already got experience in teaching, so that will help when finding a job afterwards. I don't think being funded or not helps in job applications. I've never heard anyone discuss this as a good or a bad thing (in biology, although most people are either funded by a research council, the university or are funded international students). Successfully applying for and getting your own funding obviously makes a difference, but I'm not talking about that.
My sense is that a lot of the 'negatives' about taking longer come from universities themselves, who tend to have target times for getting people through their PhDs. I think there are figures showing that completion rates tend to drop off the longer people take. You sound like you have several strong reasons for wanting to do this, and I don't think the longer completion time will be seen as a negative from employers' perspectives, especially as you are already teaching.
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