PhD’s are Out of Control

Posted on August 21, 2011


In 1861 Yale awarded the first three PhDs in the US. Only one, by James Morris Whiton,  has survived. Guess how many pages his dissertation was? 100? 200? 500?

Six hand written pages long. (Rosenberg 1961)

Mind you, he did have to pass examines in German, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit too. But come on, I did that in High School, well not the German, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit (I did Spanish). I have seen PhD’s that were in Volumes, as in they were so big they need to be bounded into several separate books.

Assuming about 285+ words to a single double spaced 8 1/2 by 11 in. page and a PhD has to be between 80,000-90,000 words we are looking at 280- 315 pages. That does not include images, tables, graphs, appendix, cover pages etc. which would expand that X amount.

It makes you wonder how PhD dissertations have gone from six hand written pages to 300+ pages.

The First American Doctor of Philosophy Degree: A Centennial Salute to Yale, 1861-1961
Ralph P. Rosenberg
The Journal of Higher Education
Vol. 32, No. 7 (Oct., 1961), pp. 387-394