University sets measures to aid graduate students

Plan aims to cut time period for a doctorate

   Princeton University wants to help graduate students complete their degrees on time.
   A special committee has examined issues related to the post-enrollment period for doctoral candidates, the period when they are no longer officially enrolled in the university. It has recommended a set of initiatives intended to ease the transition and help them finish their degrees.
   "The university is committed to the goal of helping students complete their degree within the enrollment period," wrote Provost Amy Gutmann in a memo to department chairs and directors of graduate studies. "The university also recognizes that a sizeable fraction of students do not complete their degree within their enrollment period, and that there is room for improvement in our practices across departments."
   The Post-Enrollment Committee included directors of graduate studies, graduate students and other administrators, including several from the Graduate School.
   Dr. Gutmann, who chaired the committee, noted that while the time to earn a doctoral degree at Princeton has increased — as it has at universities across the country — the amount of time generally remains shorter than at other institutions. Today, the median time from matriculation to receiving a doctorate at Princeton is 6.2 years, compared to a national average of nearly seven years.
   Graduate programs at Princeton, unlike most other in stitutions, have a fixed period of enrollment. During that enrollment period, the university provides stipends and limits teaching requirements in order to facilitate degree completion.
   The university plans to issue a document that identifies practices that have helped keep graduate students on track.
   The university also will issue a post-enrollment handbook that will serve as a single source of information regarding the post-enrollment period.
   The committee unanimously recommended the establishment of a new affiliation status called Degree Candidacy Continuing, a status that will provide post-enrolled doctoral degree candidates access to a limited set of university services, such as the library and parking and give them the opportunity to extend medical benefits