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Petraeus Earned PhD While Serving....

Beil1958Beil1958 Registered User Posts: 658 Member
edited November 2012 in Parent Cafe
Gen David Petraeus earned an MPA and a PhD from Princeton while on active duty in the United States Army. I'm curious how that works. His assignment in the army is grad school? For how many years? Must've taken at least 4 years. Not passing judgement, just curious how it works. He also did a post doc fellowship at Georgetown. That's significant investment of tax dollars and time in this man's education. (Just an undergrad degree from one of the military academies has quite a price tag.) I'm sure he received his regular pay while he was a student, time that accrued toward retirement. --Not saying he didn't deserve it. I just didn't know this was an option while serving in the military. Does anybody know if it's a common practice?

Maybe I'm missing something.
Post edited by Beil1958 on

Replies to: Petraeus Earned PhD While Serving....

  • Iron MaidenIron Maiden Registered User Posts: 1,983 Senior Member
    You are missing something. Officers in the military not only get advanced degrees but it is encouraged because it can be a requirement for promotion above a certain level.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Registered User Posts: 16,870 Senior Member
    The government pays for his schooling and in return we get his service. By BIL did ROTC in college and then owed the government four years. (He actually served for 29.) A good friend's son is in vet school, paid for by the army, and when he gets out he'll owe them three years.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,415 Senior Member
    I'm sure he received his regular pay while he was a student...

    Not necessarily. But yes, military (and other government workers) are encouraged to further their education (which is a good thing IMO).
  • jonrijonri Registered User Posts: 6,974 Senior Member
    I don't think he spent 4 years at Princeton. Instead, he probably took 2 years max of courses and then wrote his dissertation without being resident in Princeton.
  • nj2011momnj2011mom Registered User Posts: 2,885 Senior Member
    Typically in the military officers are obligated to spend 2 years of service for every year of grad school when they attend full-time.
  • BookladyBooklady Registered User Posts: 3,122 Senior Member
    Just read an article which explains this very issue: Slate Magazine
    The department, known as “Sosh,” was founded just after World War II by a visionary ex-cadet and Rhodes Scholar named George A. “Abe” Lincoln. Toward the end of the war, as the senior planning aide to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall, Lincoln realized that the Army needed to breed a new type of officer to help the nation meet its new global responsibilities in the postwar era. This new officer, he wrote to a colleague, should have “at least three heads—one political, one economic, and one military.” He took a demotion, from brigadier general to colonel, so he could return to West Point and create a curriculum “to improve the so-called Army mind” in just this way: a social science department, encouraging critical thinking, even occasionally dissent.

    Lincoln also set up a program allowing cadets with high scores in Sosh classes to go study at a civilian graduate school, with West Point paying the tuition. In exchange, the cadets, after earning their doctorates, would come back and teach for at least three years. Once they fulfilled that obligation, Lincoln would use his still-considerable connections in Washington to get them choice assignments in the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, a foreign embassy, or a prestigious command post.
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Registered User Posts: 19,053 Senior Member
    My father got his GED while in the military. :)
  • busdriver11busdriver11 Registered User Posts: 14,204 Senior Member
    During my first assignment, it was widely known within my unit that it was required to earn your masters degree in order to get your choice of next assignment. Therefore, everyone (at least that I knew of) got their masters degree as a first or second lieutenant.

    People didn't take time off to complete the masters, but went to night classes on base or to a university nearby.

    We didn't think of it as a great benefit given to us by the military (classes were pretty cheap) but as a rather annoying requirement we had to complete after working all day. Would have much rather been doing something fun and relaxing!
  • momof2kidsmomof2kids Registered User Posts: 320 Member
    Booklady - the article is exactly right. It is highly competitive (like 2% of the officers get the opportunity). My H got two masters (full time student at big name grad school) thanks to the Army and went back to West Point to pay it back. It's a away to retain officers who would make up possibly 10 times their officer salary if they were in a civilian job. As a taxpayer, it annoyed me until I realized that it is very good for the military to retain their top performers and these officers have had some civilian education/socialization which I think is very healthy from an organizational point of view.
    I am not too happy with the whole Petraeus news. Stupid, stupid, stupid! He and the woman are both WP grads. So much for Duty, Honor, Country!
  • OivoivOivoiv - Posts: 194 Junior Member
    There are numerous opportunities for military people (officers and enlisted) to earn college degrees, both as their primary duty and during off-duty hours. Also a wide variety of tuition coverage, assistance, and re-imbursement options. Some people assume young people face a choice of college OR the military, but they aren't mutually exclusive.
  • massloumasslou Registered User Posts: 338 Member
    I'd be very surprised if he didn't spend at least 2 years at Princeton. He earned a Master's and a PhD before online courses were readily available. I'd also be surprised if he didn't get his regular salary and years of service. Otherwise he would have taken leave and they don't typically break service. Graduate work is one of the few perks afforded to officers ranking major and above. They routinely attend 'schools' and 'colleges' ( taught by the military, on military installations ) as grooming for their next promotion. My brother attended the Army War College back in the day as do all officers being groomed for general. He spent a year in Carlisle, PA and had no duties or responsibilities except going to class/doing schoolwork and staying physically fit. His wife and kids kept their previous base housing because she was working and the kids could be protected from yet another school transfer. Many of those officers got a Master's Degree from a nearby institution based on that coursework.

    This kind of study is different from civilians who agree to serve in exchange for education, ie undergrad ROTC or the medical corps. He probably had no guarantee he would get the next promotion and if he didn't get the next promotion, he'd be out of the military. They can serve at a certain rank only a limited number of years.

    No question he earned the education he received courtesy Uncle Sam---our tax dollars at work! Still, I agree with the OP that it's quite a price tag!
  • GladGradDadGladGradDad Registered User Posts: 2,818 Senior Member
    As far as cost goes - can you imagine what the civilian CEO equivalent of his equivalent position would draw as a salary?
  • xiggixiggi Registered User Posts: 25,432 Senior Member
    It's a away to retain officers who would make up possibly 10 times their officer salary if they were in a civilian job.

    Perhaps a teeny bit of hyperbole here?

    Might you care to give a couple of examples of how those 10 times the officer salary do work? A good start would be be to take the pay of a 30 year old Navy Captain who graduated 5-6 years ago from a military academy and perhaps compare that to a civilian COMPARABLE job. I think the grade is O-6.

    Of course, one might also think of those highway robbery jobs that civilian might get from the beltway bandits that bleed the armed forces budgets dry.

    Comparing salaries of people at the level of Petraeus with CEOs is a fool's errand.
  • worknprogress2worknprogress2 Registered User Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    SIL got her doctorate while in Army. She brought some highly innovative interventions back with her when she returned to her hospital. I am sure the returning soldiers appreciated the advanced techniques - especially the amputees
  • busdriver11busdriver11 Registered User Posts: 14,204 Senior Member
    The amount paid towards his graduate work is pennies compared to all the full scholarships the military gives out. Complete college paid for, plus a stipend, just to get a mere second lieutenant, who might not even be a career military officer. Plus the amazing college deal that you can get for yourself (or your family) for just serving a short time in the military?

    Easy to pass out public funds, you'd never see this at a private company. Especially since they no longer need to use this as a recruiting tool.
This discussion has been closed.