The Council of Graduate Schools has issued a new report on retention and degree completion of minority students in doctoral programs in STEM disciplines. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, collected data on doctoral students at 21 research universities across the United States.
The data shows that retention and degree completion rates have improved slightly over the past 20 years. The latest data reveals that overall degree completion for doctoral students in STEM fields is 54 percent, 10 years after first entering a doctoral program. For African Americans the degree completion rate is only slightly lower at 50 percent.
Part of the project involved student surveys. One finding from the surveys was that minority doctoral students had the most difficulty when they entered the dissertation phase of their doctoral programs. Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, said that “one of the striking lessons from this study is that the dissertation phase is a particularly critical time for students. Our country’s STEM workforce will lose a great deal of potential talent if we don’t help underrepresented doctoral students cross the finish line.”
The full report, Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion, may be downloaded by clicking here.