Rebecca Schuman writes in Slate about UC Irvine’s new program to get graduate students out in five years, and sees an important benefit: a climb down from the idea of the dissertation as an "endlessly protracted super-project that is so difficult, so important, and takes so long that by the end its writer feels both entitled to a place in its field and unfit for any other type of work."
What a great line!
I finished my degree in five years, thanks to being intensely tactical about my dissertation (though this was mainly my advisor’s doing), and luckily well-funded. So I think the five year benchmark makes good sense. Graduate school can be a good experience, but not when it turns into the academic equivalent of the siege of Leningrad.