For nearly fifty percent of people who enroll in a doctoral degree program, the answer is no. Yikes. How can you stack the odds in favor of finishing? It may help to be aware of some variables that skew toward success. Though it is hard to say for sure what is causal, some correlating success factors may be in your control.
Marriage: Married students stick out their programs more often than their single counterparts. Maybe it is all the love and support from home. Maybe it is the fear of your spouse’s reaction to quitting after so much hard work!
Schedule: Those of you adhering to your schedule have a better chance of completion, on time or otherwise. If you must go on sabbatical, so be it, but it is quite difficult to get back to that dissertation. Not to mention your research will be old.
Subject Matter: Studying biology or rocket science? Anyone in the hard sciences has a greater likelihood of completion than social sciences or humanities. Humanities are the least likely destined for completion; these patterns also follow funding and research priorities. Coincidence?
Purpose: If your job or career depends on finishing the doctorate, you are more likely to finish. If getting a doctorate is more of a bucket list activity, perhaps you should have considered visiting the Grand Canyon.
Financial Security: Worrying about how to pay that tuition every few months adds stress and increases the likelihood of dropping out. Having money set aside for tuition is a simple, although not easy, way to eliminate this anxiety. Those semesters get closer every year!
Adviser: Develop a strong relationship with your adviser. He or she is a major factor in your completion. It may not feel like it sometimes, but they actually do want you to succeed. Schedule a phone call or visit regularly and touch base at least once a month via email to make sure you are on the right track. (No bribes!)