Wilfred Cude
The Ph.D. Trap R E V I S I T E D
Copyright © Wilfred Cude, 2001 | Click here to buy!


Readers comment on The Ph.D. Trap

Robertson Davies, author and Master of Massey College, University of Toronto.
"I truly thought that I had written to you about The Ph.D. Trap, which I received and read with pleasure and many a nod of assent. A necessary book, but I suspect you are being buffeted by the academics, who have a vested interest.... Again, thanks, and keep on lambasting the Ph.D. It has become a vulgar superstition." Private letter to W. Cude, 15 August, 1990.

Farley Mowat, author.
"Wilfred Cude is the kind of reformer this world needs. Humane, literate, reasonable, and utterly implacable, he has just unmasked the gruesome goings on in the academic morgue that deals in doctoral degrees. Any student contemplating the pursuit of a doctorate had better read The Ph.D. Trap as a matter of basic self-preservation. Everyone else should read it for the cutting insight it gives into the current state of academe." Cover statement, The Ph.D. Trap, March, 1987.

Silver Donald Cameron, author, academic and journalist.
"The Ph.D. Trap is a passionate cry for reform from a man who, astonishingly, remains committed to scholarship. It will find much support among thoughtful and humane academics ­ who are more common than we have any right to expect." The Globe and Mail [Toronto], "Graduates' reality," 23 May, 1987.

Edward Sheffield, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto.
"According to Wilfred Cude, the PhD trap is the bind in which a doctoral candidate may be caught on the way to a PhD ­ more often in the humanities and social sciences than in the natural sciences. He has the scholarly impulse to analyse the problem and to promote reform. He is not alone in his concern. Many groups share his concern about the time it takes to obtain postgraduate degrees." University Affairs [Ottawa] "Many groups share author's concern," March, 1988.

Larry McDonald, English Professor, Carleton University
"This is a gutsy little book. Wilfred Cude takes enormous personal and professional risks, and I rather fear that he will be savaged in the High Academic Style by many scholarly reviewers. His assault on the Ph.D., while presented with all the academic gestures of disinterestedness, engages its subject with compelling intensity.... It will be a test of the academic community's tolerance and capacity for serious self-scrutiny to see whether it responds in the first instance to the genuine issues that Cude raises." The Atlantic Provinces Book Review [Halifax] "Death by Degrees," May-June, 1987.

David Oancia, book page editor
"This disturbing book is a plea for the urgent reform of our universities by one who clearly feels they are victimizing far too many impressionable students and taking advantage of the fee-paying parents and tax-levied citizens financing them.... The results hurt everyone. The wastage of young talents is staggering." The Telegraph-Journal [St. John, N.B.] "An Urgent Plea For University Reform,"
1 August, 1987.

Andrew Allentuck, journalist.
"Mr. Cude's book should be essential reading for any graduate student or undergraduate thinking of becoming one. For politicians and voters, the issue is clear: how long can a claque of professors, who cannot be fired and whose work cannot be evaluated, drain the public purse while luring unwitting students to do free research and teach unwanted courses? The Ph.D. system as it now stands is, as Mr. Cude has shown, a tacit conspiracy in restraint of entry into the teaching profession." The Winnipeg Free Press, "Wasted lives, wasted money," 9 January, 1988.

Alan Twigg, journalist.
"One shot can start a revolution. The target in Wilfred Cude's The Ph.D. Trap is the 'inflexible, cumbersome, restrictive and deplorably wasteful' North American PhD program.... Reliance on the PhD for certifying university instructors is a practice that has reduced the degree to a union card in academe. The PhD Trap sensibly argues that it's time to broaden the concept of scholarship, opening academic programs to qualified private and independent scholars who are not university-based." The Province [Vancouver], "Caught in the academic trap," 10 April, 1988.

Trish Irwin, journalist.
"Wilfred Cude, author and university lecturer, has recently written a brilliant but disturbing account of the realities of the North American doctorate system. In The Ph.D. Trap he exposes the tragic shortcomings of a system which "traps" bright minds intent upon intellectual progression, soaks up an average of three to five (but often many more) years of their lives, conforms them to an outdated system of conservative study and then dismisses a great number with no degree in hand." COMMUNIQUÉ [Montreal], "CLOSET SCHOLARS TAKE NOTE!" 7 May, 1988.

Wilfred Cude  

Chapter One
Time's Toll

Whatever its possessors may say to the contrary, the North American doctor of philosophy degree is not so much about scholarly attainment as it is about power: sheer, naked, inexorable economic and social power. Originally intended as the certificate attesting specialized preparation for research in the major scholarly disciplines,...




This book, let me stress at the very beginning, is designed to effect positive change in a central academic institution now painfully and destructively faltering. While nearly all the standard literature concerning our contemporary university structure is unrelievedly laudatory,...