Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 125–138

Fitting the Mold of Graduate School: A Qualitative Study of Socialization in Doctoral Education



Doctoral student attrition in the United States has reached alarming proportions, with reported rates of approximately 50% across disciplines (Nettles and Millett 2006). Attrition rates of underrepresented populations have been reported at higher rates across disciplines (Council of Graduate Schools 2004), pointing to a disparate experience for these students. Socialization has been shown to be a determining factor in doctoral student success and retention (Turner and Thompson 1993) while not necessarily reflecting how the socialization experience differs by disciplinary and institutional contexts. Through this qualitative study I sought to understand the effects of the socialization process upon doctoral student success and retention in the disciplines of chemistry and history at two institutions. Results highlighted a disparate experience for women, students of color, students with families, part-time students, and older students. Suggestions for policy, practice, and further research are included.

Key words

socialization doctoral education underrepresented populations 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Maine in OronoOronoUSA

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