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Inside the Black Box of Doctoral Education: What Program Characteristics Influence Doctoral Students' Attrition and Graduation Probabilities?

30 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2006  

Ronald G. Ehrenberg

ILR-Cornell University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

George H. Jakubson

ILR-Cornell University

Jeffrey Groen

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Eric C. So

Cornell University - Cornell Higher Education Research Institute; Nasdaq Economic Research

Joseph Price

Brigham Young University

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) provided over $80 million to 51 treatment departments in the humanities and related social sciences during the 1990s to improve their PhD programs. Using survey data collected from students who entered the treatment and 50 control departments during a 15 year period that spanned the start of the GEI, we use factor analysis to group multiple aspects of PhD programs into a smaller number of characteristics and then estimate which aspects of PhD programs the GEI influenced and how these different aspects influenced attrition and graduation probabilities. From these analyses, we identify the routes via which the GEI influenced attrition and graduation rates and also indicate which aspects of PhD programs departments should concentrate on if they want to improve their programs' performance.

Suggested Citation

Ehrenberg, Ronald G. and Jakubson, George H. and Groen, Jeffrey and So, Eric C. and Price, Joseph, Inside the Black Box of Doctoral Education: What Program Characteristics Influence Doctoral Students' Attrition and Graduation Probabilities? (March 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12065. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=888267

Ronald Ehrenberg (Contact Author)

ILR-Cornell University ( email )

Higher Education Research Institute
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-3026 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

George Jakubson

ILR-Cornell University ( email )

Higher Education Research Institute
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States

Jeffrey Groen

Bureau of Labor Statistics ( email )

2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20212
United States

Eric So

Cornell University - Cornell Higher Education Research Institute ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States

Nasdaq Economic Research ( email )

Rockville, MD 20850

Joseph Price

Brigham Young University ( email )

130 FOB
Provo, NY 84604
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/jpp34/

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