According to this IHE story, the University of Colorado is re-opening its German Studies PhD program with a 4-year-to-degree schedule.
Students will spend two years focused on classwork, one year doing research (perhaps in Germany) and the final year writing their dissertation. Candidates will be encouraged to take on internships during summers to prepare for careers inside and outside of academe. Students might be steered toward "less onerous" dissertation topics or pursue digital publication, professors say, but the writing will adhere to university guidelines on length and rigor. The difference is in a lighter teaching burden and one-on-one mentoring, allowing more focus on classroom work earlier on in the program and more guidance on research and the dissertation.
Colorado administrators and others believe the program could be a model elsewhere, both in German and other humanities disciplines.
At first glance, there are two attractive elements here: 1) a compromise between the heavy coursework-and-exam schedule of US programs and the straight-to-research schedule of European programs; 2) the emphasis on "prepar[ing] for careers inside and outside of academe," that is, preparing for multiple post-degree employment markets.
But I suspect this will be a model for boutique programs that will not be generalizable. The key is the "post-degree" qualification to "employment markets." But the political economy of academic labor in higher education includes in many schools a reliance on pre-PhD labor. So when we focus on the key phrase, "a lighter teaching burden," I have to wonder about the finances here, given that so many universities have become reliant on the academic labor of graduate students and adjuncts, even as we read of experiments to tap into undergraduate labor, in the form of "a critical mass of deputized students" doing grading.
Nonetheless, this may be an interesting model for schools with the financial set-up to afford a boutique program of this sort. What do readers think about either the economics of the proposal or about its educational qualities?