How colleges contribute to a 50% doctoral attrition rate
- More than 50% of doctoral students leave their programs before earning a degree, with some research indicating mental health disorders and stress as the primary reason for the attrition.
- The culture of doctoral work can prompt paranoia, overwhelming desire to please dissertation committees and other faculty.
- Multiple studies suggest most graduate students report more stress than they can handle levied by faculty members, and mentorship was drastically needed early and all throughout the program.
With increasing emphasis on making diverse student populations feel comfortable on campus, colleges and universities should find ways to create the same atmosphere for graduate students, and particularly, doctoral students. Graduate students are integral to research productivity, Carnegie classification, and the financial well-being of many top-tier programs, but in many ways are treated worse than undergraduate students because of the pressure to finish on the campus where they start.
Departments and universities at large could benefit by surveying doctoral students annually on their program experiences and offering salary increases or other benefits to those professors who consistently earn high marks for accessibility, support and responsiveness to students, which one former professor outlined as the tenets of good graduate advisement.
- The Atlantic Why do so many graduate students quit?