Black, Hispanic, and White Doctoral Students: Before, During, and After Enrolling in Graduate School

Nettles, Michael
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Student retention minority students doctoral programs graduate school performance demographic background


In comparison to White students, relatively few Black and Hispanic students enter graduate school, and even fewer succeed in obtaining a doctoral degree. This study compared and contrasted the background characteristics - age, gender, race, socioeconomic status - of these students before they enter undergraduate and graduate school; their performance and academic preparation in undergraduate school; the types of transitions they make into graduate school; and their experiences, attitudes, and performance after they enroll in doctoral programs. Data were gathered through an extensive survey that included a 142-item questionnaire developed with the assistance of associate deans at the four participating institutions - Florida State University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, and the University of Maryland at College Park. The survey was administered to approximately 1,300 doctoral students at these institutions. The survey revealed many racial group differences in the backgrounds, experiences, and performance of the students, and many differences in their experiences in graduate school even after controlling for personal and educational backgrounds. Furthermore, the personal and educational backgrounds of the Black and Hispanic students were as different from each other as they were from those of the White students.

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