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Ph.D destined

Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. after leaving Furman may just find themselves ideally positioned to prepare to take that step.

The Survey of Earned Doctorates, an annual census of all new research doctorate recipients from U.S. colleges and universities, ranked Furman 81st in the nation for the percentage of Furman graduates who earned doctorates from 2001-2010. More than 1,500 schools were included in this ranking, which included major research institutions such as Harvard, Michigan, MIT and Stanford, to small liberal arts and public colleges in every state.

While Furman’s overall ranking is impressive, the survey also shows that Furman ranks 32nd nationally for physical sciences doctorate degrees and 37th for arts.

According to Donald Pierce, director of Furman’s Office for Institutional Assessment and Research, these rankings underscore Furman’s commitment to providing quality education and preparing students for lifelong learning.

“The national rankings demonstrate Furman’s quality of instruction, the quality of our professors, and their dedication and willingness to involve students in research and internships to prepare them for graduate study,” he said. “Additionally, from the professors’ standpoint, it is attractive to teach students who want to go further in the discipline. As a result, that helps us to attract better quality faculty because they know we have students capable of, and with a demonstrated commitment to, attending graduate school.”

According to Pierce, in the last eight to 10 years, approximately 40 to 42 percent of all Furman students report going on immediately post-graduation to some type of graduate program. This is almost double the national average of 22 to 24 percent

“A Furman degree is very well respected by most [graduate] schools in the southeast and nationally,” said Pierce.

John Barker, Ph.D., director of The Office of Career Services, said Furman’s reputation helps students excel in post-graduate programs.

“Furman is known for admitting top-tier high school academic talent. We have been listed as one of the most academically rigorous schools in the country. You take motivated, bright students, and combine it with challenging curriculum, and that combination prepares students for graduate education,” said Barker.

Barker and the career services team help students through the discernment process for graduate schools using a variety of tools and resources to assist students with choosing the right graduate program. They also help students through the application process.

Ann Shoemaker ’02 received a Master of Music degree from Furman’s Yale School of Music in 2004 and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2012. She is now assistant professor of bassoon at Baylor University School of Music in Waco, Texas. She credits her liberal arts education at Furman for preparing her for doctoral studies.

“At Furman, I learned how to write well, learned critical thinking, and learned how to prioritize when I had too much to do and not enough time to do it,” she said. “My Furman background gave me a solid foundation in both music and academics. That made all of the papers and lengthy reading assignments in my doctoral program much more feasible.  I know that a major part of why I received a large fellowship for my doctorate was due to my strong academic background established at Furman, as well as the values and collegiality that I learned from my Furman professors.”

More information about Furman’s rankings in the Survey of Earned Doctorates, survey sponsors and study methodology can be found online.

(Degree and book image courtesy of

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