Exit, Voice, Loyalty: Using an Exit Phone Interview to Mitigate the Silent Departure Phenomenon


Doctoral student attrition is often referred to as a silent epidemic whereby students tacitly withdraw without ever being given an exit interview or follow-up. While most studies focus on the departing students, few studies focus on the institution’s implicit and explicit policies and practices that encourage silence. Drawing upon the “Exit, Voice, Loyalty” framework, we examined how the pathways to student voice that institutions provide for departing students contribute to the silent departure phenomenon. We recommend that campus stakeholders, policymakers, and administrators solicit critical feedback from departing students and develop instruments to assess their own departure process, rather than relying on national assessments.

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We recognize support from the staff researchers in the Office of Institutional Research, Analysis and Decision Support at MAU. The exit survey was originally developed in part with the funding and support for the Ph.D. Completion Project by the Council of Graduate Schools. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council of Graduate Schools.

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Correspondence to Wendy Y. Carter-Veale.

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Carter-Veale, W.Y., Holder, M.B. & Joseph, L.N. Exit, Voice, Loyalty: Using an Exit Phone Interview to Mitigate the Silent Departure Phenomenon. Innov High Educ 44, 367–384 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-019-9469-z

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  • Exit phone interview
  • Silent departure
  • Doctoral attrition
  • Exit-voice-loyalty
  • Doctoral training
  • Graduate audience