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Program Design and Student Outcomes in Graduate Education

  • Jeffrey Groen
  • George Jakubson
  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg
  • Scott Condie
  • Albert Yung-Hsu Liu

Doctoral programs in the humanities and related social sciences are characterized by high attrition and long times-to-degree. In response to these problems, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched the Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) to improve the quality of graduate programs and in turn reduce attrition and shorten times-to-degree. Over a 10-year period starting in 1991, the Foundation provided a total of over $80 million to 51 departments at 10 major research universities. We estimate the impact of the GEI on attrition rates and times-to-degree using competing risk duration models and student-level data. The data span the start of the GEI and include information for students at a set of control departments. We estimate that the GEI had modest impacts on student outcomes in the expected directions: reducing attrition rates, reducing times-to-degree and increasing completion rates. The impacts of the GEI appear to have been driven in part by reductions in entering cohort size, improvements in financial support and increases in student quality.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12064.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12064.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Publication status: published as Groen, J., G. Jakubson, R. Ehrenberg, S. Condie, and A. Liu. “Program Design and Student Outcomes in Graduate Education.” Economics of Education Review (April 2008).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12064
Note: ED LS
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  1. John Siegfried & Wendy A. Stock, 2000. "So You Want to Earn a Ph.D. in Economics: How Long Do You Think it Will Take?," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0037, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  2. DesJardins, S. L. & Ahlburg, D. A. & McCall, B. P., 1999. "An event history model of student departure," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 375-390, June.
  3. van Ours, J. C. & Ridder, G., 2003. "Fast track or failure: a study of the graduation and dropout rates of Ph D students in economics," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 157-166, April.
  4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Panagiotis G. Mavros, 1992. "Do Doctoral Students' Financial Support Patterns Affect Their Times-to-Degree and Completion Probabilities," NBER Working Papers 4070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David W. Breneman & Dean T. Jamison & Roy Radner, 1976. "The Ph.D. Production Process," NBER Chapters, in: Education as an Industry, pages 1-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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