10000 Hours
July 25, 2009

It’s an old rule of thumb that it takes 10000 hours of work to master a discipline. This sounds about right to me. A medical student takes four years to graduate, and can probably expect to work about 50-60 hours a week to reach their 10000 hours. A PhD student might take six years and work only 40 hours per week. This also implies law students should have to work upwards of 75 hours a week in law school, and I’m not sure how many law students actually do work that hard; maybe that’s why we have such substandard lawyers in this country (ha ha). Note that I’m defining “work” here as something beyond a liberal arts education, under the assumption that the latter primarily helps to build an emotional and educational foundation from which one can begin to start learning a trade. So it makes sense that engineers are working 50-60 hours a week in college to master their craft. Also, I should mention that the 10000 hours applies to non-academic pursuits too, such as sports, music, art, or automobile repair, but I don’t feel qualified to comment on these in more detail.