Minority Attrition and Completion in STEM Doctoral Programs

    Over the past several decades, researchers have highlighted the fact that there is a general underrepresentation of minority (URM) students—particularly African American, American Indian, and Hispanic students—in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at the graduate level. The problem of underrepresentation in doctoral education and the academic workforce is exacerbated by the fact that attrition rates from doctoral programs tend to be very high.


    With a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF grant #1138814, "Completion and Attrition in AGEP and non-AGEP institutions"), the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) examined patterns of completion and attrition among URMs in STEM doctoral programs across twenty-one institutions in the United States, including those institutions affiliated with NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. The project has assembled the largest dataset of its kind to estimate the percentage of URM doctoral students in STEM fields who completed or withdrew from their program and the time it took them to complete the doctoral degree. The project also sheds light on the range of supports available at institutions to assist these students using input from URM doctoral students enrolled in STEM programs, as well as university personnel. Furthermore, as a part of the project, CGS will convene the AGEP National Forum in Washington, D.C. in February 2017.

     

    Project Outcomes


    The project resulted in the following publication:

     

    Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion (login required)

    Online Appendices for the publication
    Press Release for the publication

    In the News:
    Helping Minority Ph.D.’s in STEM: Something’s Working (Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/14/2015)
    Missing Minority Ph.D.s (Inside Higher Ed, 11/4/2014)

     

     

    Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) National Forum


    The AGEP National Forum convened on February 23 and 24, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Washington. The forum had the following goals:

    • To serve as a forum for exploring promising practices with the potential to significantly improve the diversity of graduate students and the professoriate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields,
    • To develop a network for sharing and fostering community among AGEP grantees, and
    • To provide a platform for NSF to engage AGEP grantees by sharing its strategic priorities, policies, and procedures designed to facilitate STEM doctoral programs inclusiveness.

     

    One of the highlights of the AGEP Forum was the Networking Reception and Poster Session. During this session, each AGEP Alliance and Project presented their work and activities, as well as its impact.

     

    View the Agenda

    View the Poster Abstracts

    Proceedings from the Forum (To be published in Spring 2017)

     

     

    Resources for Graduate Deans and Researchers


    Data collection instruments employed in this project are available for public use, allowing non-participating graduate schools to collect their own data to benchmark against the project findings. Word/Excel and PDF versions of these instruments are available below.

     

    Data Collection Instrument for Student-level Data Instruction (.pdf) Instrument (.pdf) Instrument (.xlsx)
    Inventory of Policies, Programs and Procedures Instruction (.pdf) Instrument (.pdf) Instrument (.xlsx)
    Instrument for the Doctoral Student Survey   Instrument (.pdf) Instrument (.docx)
    Protocol for Student Focus Group Sessions   Protocol (.pdf) Protocol (.docx)
    Demographic Information Questionnaire for Student Focus Group   Questionnaire (.pdf) Questionnaire (.docx)
    Protocol for Group Interview Sessions with University Personnel   Protocol (.pdf) Protocol (.docx)

     

    Contacts

     

    Hironao Okahana

     

    Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF #1138814)

     

    Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation

     

    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
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