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When can you claim PhD ABD?

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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Shez » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:02 pm

I worked with a teacher who was PhD ABD (all but dissertation) because he said his advisor left the college and he couldn't continue his research. He mentioned that he probably had a couple years left. So I would like to know, at what point can you claim PhD ABD (all but dissertation)? It only takes a year or two to complete the course requirements, but you can still have years of work left to do. There seems to be a great time lag there and I would like to know if there is any official point in time when you can say this. At the college I was teaching at, he got paid the PhD starting wage even though he was PhD ABD (all but dissertation) so they really didn't care that he finished his PhD. Is that common as well?
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Chris » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:43 pm

My understanding is that the ABD (all but dissertation) designation is used in the humanities, most commonly for those looking for adjunct (non tenure-track) teaching positions. These folks, once they have completed all of the other formal requirements for their doctoral degree, can often leave their institution and finish up their dissertations anywhere, because their work does not require the direct support of a thesis advisor or a laboratory infrastructure. Therefore, they could work as adjuncts while finishing up their writing.

In my opinion, the ABD is a meaningless notation in science because if you leave your institution before receiving your PhD, you will not ever complete that PhD (though you may go on to another PhD program elsewhere). People in this situation most commonly get a masters degree.
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:49 pm

I have never seen a PhD "All but dissertation" used on a resume or CV directed to alternative careers. If I did, I would pass on that person as a candidate. The heart and soul of what is learned through the PhD comes as a result of doing the dissertation.

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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Rich Lemert » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:52 pm

I would say you could claim the 'title' from the moment you complete all your requirements for admission to candidacy in a doctoral program til the moment you defend your dissertation. I'm not sure it's all that meaningful -or common - in science and technology, though, since you haven't demonstrated the key differentiator of the PhD - the ability to do research.

I think it's more common in the liberal arts, where the 'research' phase of your studies is self-funded and may take 10-15 years. This would allow the candidate to be hired as an 'instructor'
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Jack » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:21 pm

I agree with Rich's definition. I've even seen a few science jobs advertised as open to ABDs, but I agree it doesn't mean too much except you've passed qualifiers, etc. I did that and still ended up getting a Masters degree in the end.

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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby E. Johnson » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:47 pm

Not a Dr. until you cross the graduation stage, a Ph.D candidate after qualifying exams, a Ph.D. student prior to that- those are the rules as I know it.
I worked for a community college that got into the habit of calling everyone a degree candidate (BS candidate, MS candidate) after I identified myself as a Ph.D. candidate. I explained once that I had passed preliminary exams and that's why I was called that but didn't work there long enough to correct everyone. They were in the education business!
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Andrew » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:14 pm

I know of a case where a person got a TT position in a small teaching college with a PhD ABD in math. He told people he was just a few months of writing away from getting it done, and they hired and paid him as a PhD. Once he got a job, the motivation to write waned, and the more time passed, the harder it was for the faculty to press the issue. They learned a lesson that time, and will never hire an ABD as a PhD again. Most companies wouldn't either. What would you do as a hiring manager if you brough that person on board and then he never finished? Fire him? Reduce his title and salary, which would create an angry employee that is looking to leave? Just accept that you are paying someone for a title they don't have? Lose-lose-lose. Most companies will run away from this situation.
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Derek McPhee » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:28 pm

I have hired a couple of PhDs in the past pending just their defense or some such detail, but in all cases their written offer of employment stated something about the position/salary etc offered being subject to completion of degree (with appropriate proof) within x-months, so there are no misunderstandings if it doesn't happen on schedule (and in at least one case the offer letter was rewritten later to extend the period because of some snafu with the guy's committee requiring a rescheduling of the defense by a month or something).
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby Kelly » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:30 am

Although ABD means all but dissertation, I would encourage at least in the sciences, modifying this to mean all but DEFENSE. I would not use ABD in the sciences until the dissertation is written, submitted to the committee and they agree it is a defensible document with date of defense set (and listed on the CV).
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When can you claim PhD ABD?

Postby S.J.D. » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:16 pm

I imagine there is some timeframe in which ABD is an appropriate acronym (like up to the first few months after you leave your institution), since it does take several months to write a dissertation. However, after sometime your title will should change over to drop out.

I was at a certain university where a secretary was telling me that "this guy keeps calling me every day harassing me that he wants his MS degree. He went here in the 70's and needed one more class to finish and never finished." She said "the curriculum is so different now we can't just let him come back and finish 1 course and get his degree, but we offered to re-admit him which he is not interested in" Apparently, for this person the MS degree had become a sticking point for his employment, and at the end of the day he was just a drop out of the program. You may get a job with the ABD label, but good luck getting the second job if it requires a PhD.
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