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

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  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg
  • George Jakubson
  • Jeffrey Groen
  • Eric So
  • Joseph Price

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

  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg & George Jakubson & Jeffrey Groen & Eric So & Joseph Price, 2006. "Inside the Black Box of Doctoral Education: What Program Characteristics Influence Doctoral Students' Attrition and Graduation Probabilities?," NBER Working Papers 12065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12065
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    Cited by:

    1. Carmen Aina, 2010. "The Determinants of Educational Attainment, University Drop-out and Time-to-Degree. A focus on Italy," Working Papers 132, SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont.
    2. Flores, Carlos A. & Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso, 2009. "Identification and Estimation of Causal Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment under Unconfoundedness," IZA Discussion Papers 4237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Carmen Aina, 2011. "The Determinants of Success and Failure of Italian University Students. Evidence from administrative data," Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 119(2), pages 85-108.

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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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