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Entry from May 23, 2014
All But Dissertation (ABD)

A graduate student who is in a Ph.D. program often completes all the requirements, except for a dissertation. Such a student has been nicknamed an ABD—“All But Dissertation.” The term “ABD” has been cited in print since at least the late 1950s.


Wikipedia: All but dissertation
All but dissertation (ABD) is a mostly unofficial term identifying a stage in the process of obtaining a research doctorate in the United States and Canada. At this stage, the student has completed the preparatory coursework, qualifying examinations, comprehensive examinations, and may have defended his or her dissertation proposal. To complete the degree, the student must carry out the proposed research and write the dissertation that defines a PhD or equivalent research doctorate. ABD attrition is estimated as high as 50%. Schools have suggested that faculty and administration are to blame.

Google Books
Annual Report
American Council of Learned Societies
New York, NY: The Council
1957
Pg. XIII:
A pre-doctoral fellowship program designed especially for these so-called ABD’s ("all but dissertation") is greatly needed to provide leaves for those already teaching or a terminal year to allow the able but financially straitened graduate students to defer taking jobs and to complete their dissertations.

Google Books
Graduate Education in the United States
By Bernard Berelson
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1960
Pg. 171:
They are the ABD’s—"All But Dissertation.”

Every graduate university has some of them, often in large numbers.

1 August 1963, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, “Ray Principal Gets Acquainted With Job,” pg. B1, col. 1:
Hall has been doing research at the University of Texas for the past month, explaining he now has added a new degree: ABD—“all but dissertation”—toward his doctorate.
(W. E. Hall.—ed.)

6 January 1965, Daily Northwestern (Northwestern University), ‘Graduate School Working To Fill Ph.D-Teaching Gap” by Jean Adelsman, pg. 3, col. 2:
‘ABDs’ A Problem
“ABDs (All But Dissertation) have become such a problem that whenever graduate deans meet, the problem always comes up,” Baker said.
(Robert Baker, dean of the graduate school, Northwestern University.—ed.)

16 May 1965, Syracuse (NY) Herald American, “Ph.D. Programs Are Unfair to Students, Report Declares” by Dr. Benjamin Fine, pg. 11, col. 8
Thousands of brilliant students have earned the dubious “ABD degree”—the all but dissertation.

9 October 1966, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Education Forum” by Dr. Benjamin Fine, pg. 13-A, col. 1:
There are thousands of ABD’s (All But Dissertation) teaching in our colleges today.

OCLC WorldCat record
The ABD (all but dissertation) Ph.D. candidate at The University of Iowa.
Author: Juanita Madge Vetter
Publisher: 1969.
Dissertation: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Iowa, 1969.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript Archival Material : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Psychological Predictors of Attrition in Doctoral Study: The ABD Phenomenon.
Author: Toby T Hobish
Publisher: 1979-09-00
Edition/Format: Book Book : English
Database: ERIC The ERIC database is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education.
Summary:
The hypotheses for the study were that: (1) there is a significant overall relationship between three variables (independence, level of masculinity, and level of socialization) in combination and two independent variables (sex and degree status) that is different for successful degree candidates (SDC) and all-but-dissertation (ABD) students; (2) SDCs would score higher than ABDs on achievement via independence; and (3) SDCs would score higher on achievement via level of masculinity, regardless of sex. It was also expected that males would score higher than females on these scales due to sex-role socialization processes. The first and third hypotheses were borne out. The second was largely borne out, except that females scored higher than males, especially in the SDC group. The assumption about sex-role socialization was also supported, although it did not distinguish between female SDCs and ABDs. It is concluded that the investigation of such task-specific personality variables is a viable frame of inquiry for explaining differential levels of achievement in doctoral study. While the personality variables functioned well in distinguishing between SDCs and ABDs regardless of sex and between male and female SDCs, they did not operate effectively in distinguishing male and female ABDs; it is felt that other personality variables may be the reason. It is theorized that the dissertation process may be a more complicated psychological experience for females than males. (MSE)

OCLC WorldCat record
The ABCs of ABDs: A Study of Incomplete Doctorates.
Author: Penelope Jacks
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Improving College and University Teaching, v31 n2 p74-81 Spr 1983
Database: ERIC The ERIC database is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education.
Summary:
A study of doctoral candidates who left doctoral study considered these factors: financial difficulties, relationships with advisors and/or committees, research problems, personal problems, employment interference, family demands, peer support loss of interest, and employment patterns. Implications for policy formation are considered. (MSE)

OCLC WorldCat record
The process of doctoral candidate attrition : a study of the all but dissertation (ABD) phenomenon
Author: Dennis Michael Mah
Publisher: 1986.
Dissertation: Thesis (Ed. D.)--University of Washington, 1986.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript Archival Material : English

Urban Dictionary
ABD
“All But Dissertation”—someone who is working on a PhD, and has completed all requirements except the dissertation.
“I passed my prelims last week, so now I’m ABD.”
by I’m almost ABD, Dude. September 19, 2003

OCLC WorldCat record
The “All-But-the-Dissertation” Student and the Psychology of the Doctoral Dissertation
Author: Lawrence Blum
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Edition/Format: Article Article : EN
Publication: Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 24, no. 2 (2010): 74-85
Database: ArticleFirst

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Friday, May 23, 2014 • Permalink