It was always my intention to complete this PhD program in four years. I still have that goal in mind, but am also coming to terms with the reality that the original overall time schedule might have been unrealistic. Some students enter the program knowing exactly what question they would like to explore for their dissertation and have a data set in mind. It took me some time to narrow my area of focus as being back in school was, to me, like being a kid in a candy shop. I had difficulty making a decision on what specific area I wanted to explore as I had several and brought no data set with me. I also took three foundational courses that would not have been necessary had I studied public policy through undergrad and graduate school. (I have a BS, MPA, and MSIM.) Those three courses did slow my progress a bit, but I had taken them into account in my four year plan.
Writing a field statement has turned out to be much different than writing a paper for a course and it has taken some time for me to adapt. I think I’ve finally got the hang of it, but the steep learning curve has pushed my schedule somewhat to the right. I began the semester with high expectations and an aggressive (but modified from the original) schedule. In the most recent draft of my plan, I fully expected to have all three areas of my field statement completed by May 2013 so I could take the field exam and propose my dissertation by July 2013. I have one area written at approximately the 60-75% level and the other two are mere skeletons (not yet even outlines). I think I’ve finally learned the art of the field statement, so I’m counting on finishing the first one soon. Hopefully the next two will go more quickly as I plan to write them concurrently.
With that in mind, I’ve updated my schedule:
201304 – 201307 – Finish Field Statement / Obtain Final Concurrence from Committee
201307 – 201308 – Take Field Exam
201309 – 201312 – Propose Dissertation
201401 – 201412 – Write Dissertation
201501 – 201502 – Defend Dissertation
Oh, I feel your pain concerning drafting realistic schedules: I sometime feel the PhD project is not much more than adjusting (to) everything, including schedules. Yet, I’m sure you can make it if you decide and all goes well (i.e. nothing outside you prevents you from working). By the way, I’m also aiming to defend my dissertation in the spring 2015. Let’s enjoy the time in between!
Thanks for the new follow- I too have lofty plans on finishing the PhD program early. Looking forward to hearing your story/hoping you succeed and give me some hope in attaining my goals :-p.
Hey, thanks for the new follow. I’m impressed by your four-year plan – my prof has a five-year policy which is both good (no six-year PhDs) and bad (no four-year PhDs) but it’s gratifying to see someone try. Hope you succeed! 🙂