[Excerpt] In 1991 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched the Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) to improve the structure and organization of PhD programs in the humanities and social sciences and to combat the high rates of student attrition and long time to degree completion prevailing in these fields. While attrition and time to completion were deemed to be important in and of themselves, and of great significance to degree seekers, they were also seen more broadly as indicators of the effectiveness of graduate programs. An array of characteristics of doctoral programs was earmarked as likely contributors to high attrition and long degree-completion time. These included unclear or conflicting expectations of the academic performance of students, a proliferation of specialized courses, elaborate and sometimes conflicting requirements, intermittent supervision, epistemological disagreements on fundamentals, and—not least—inadequate funding. In short, the intention was to improve doctoral education and make it more efficient.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ronald_ehrenberg/235/