In response to the Forum article “Doctorate Time Rising Sharply: How long should it take?” by William Glen (March 27, 1990), I contend that Glen (and the authors of a book he cites) may be overlooking a possible explanation for the rise in time to doctorate (TTD). Is the time one spends working in his/her field between degrees considered and tabulated? It might be that after obtaining a bachelors or masters degree, the student seeks employment for a number of years before returning to school.
Using myself as an example, after graduating with a masters degree in 1981 (bachelors in 1979), I worked as a research associate for NASA before returning to school in 1984. I completed my doctorate degree in 1987, making my actual time in school between the bachelors and doctorate degrees only 5 years. The TTD as defined in Forum would yield 8 years. I know of many others who have proceeded in getting a doctorate degree in a similar fashion. My TTD of 8 years in no way reflects institutional factors as suggested in the article.