Exploring Early Exits: Doctoral Attrition in the Biomedical Sciences
Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice
Sage Publications, Inc.
NSF, Division of Graduate Education (DGE) 1760894
NSF, Division of Graduate Education (DGE)
High attrition rates have been a defining characteristic of doctoral education for decades, representing a loss of time, talent, and effort for departing students and their faculty. This qualitative study uses a biomedical science doctoral student sample to collect “real time” data on attrition within the first 2 years of doctoral training. Eighteen students, who represented 16 distinct universities, were interviewed as they engaged in the withdrawal process. Using the conceptual frames of socialization and social cognitive career theory, we explored experiences that preceded these students’ doctoral program withdrawals. Furthermore, we examined how expressed roles of students’ self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and professional goals contributed to the withdrawal process. Findings indicate that faculty advising (both positive and negative), laboratory rotation experiences, self-efficacy components, and changing professional goals all play a role in the early doctoral program attrition process.
Maher, Michelle A., et al. “Exploring Early Exits: Doctoral Attrition in the Biomedical Sciences.” Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, vol. 22, no. 2, Aug. 2020, pp. 205–226, doi:10.1177/1521025117736871.