Whether and how to reform, indeed to transform graduate education has been a matter for debate, discussion and experimentation over the past 30 years – at least. In The New PhD: How to Build a Better Graduate Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021), Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch look back at the many attempts, successes and failures to do so since the 1990s. They argue that graduate school has been preparing PhD students for jobs that don’t exist and encouraging students to want those jobs to the detriment of their career success and personal wellbeing. Cassuto and Weisbuch propose what they call a more humane and socially dynamic PhD experience that reconceives of graduate education as a public good. In The New PhD, Cassuto and Weisbuch provide recommendations from admissions to advising to curriculum to the dissertation, as well as suggestions for how to begin conversations at the departmental and graduate school level to make changes.
Leonard Cassuto is a professor of English and American Studies at Fordham University. He is the author of The Graduate Adviser column for The Chronicle of Higher Education, which inspired his book The Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It.
Robert Weisbuch, formerly a professor of English, department chair, and dean at the University of Michigan, served as the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the eleventh president of Drew University.
Amanda Jeanne Swain is executive director of the Humanities Center at the University of California, Irvine. She holds a PhD in Russian & East European European History from the University of Washington.