Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 307–321 | Cite as

Learning the Unwritten Rules: Working Class Students in Graduate School

  • Deborah M. WarnockEmail author
  • Sara Appel


While researchers have begun to examine the experiences of working class students in undergraduate education more closely, we know less about the experiences of working class students in graduate school. Through a nationwide survey of graduate students enrolled in Ph.D. programs in Sociology, we examined the extent to which working class students face greater challenges or barriers in completing their degrees compared to their middle class peers. We found working class students to be comparatively disadvantaged in academic integration and financial support. We discuss the implications of these findings for improving the graduate school experiences of working class students.

Key words

Graduate school Social class Working class students 



The authors wish to thank Joelle Sklaar for excellent research assistance, Andrew Cencini for helpful comments on previous drafts, the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript, and all of the graduate students who shared their stories, making this work possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social WorkSkidmore CollegeSaratoga SpringsUSA
  2. 2.Program in LiteratureDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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