Texas A&M is among a group of top universities selected by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to participate in a study to examine completion and attrition among underrepresented minorities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) doctoral programs.
The project, referred to as CGS’s Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion (DIMAC) and funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), will compare data across a diverse set of institutions, including some that have been funded by NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program.
The Texas A&M program is led by Associate Provost Karen Butler-Purry, who serves as director of the Office of Graduate Studies.
“As one of the top producers of STEM doctoral graduates, Texas A&M is excited about this opportunity to partner again with CGS in a national study,” Butler-Purry notes. “This project will allow us to utilize the local and national best practices that result from the project to further increase our production of underrepresented minority STEM doctoral graduates to meet the growing demand for STEM graduates and future faculty in the nation.”
“Through analysis of data, both quantitative and qualitative, we will create a tool kit of key policies and practices that have been shown to increase completion and reduce attrition rates of underrepresented minority students,” said CGS President Debra W. Stewart. She added, “Given changing demographics in the United States, the findings from this initiative will only become more important in the years to come.”
The purpose of this research is to better understand the factors that promote successful completion and the policies and practices that hold promise for increasing completion rates and reducing attrition, she explained.
The 21 universities participating in the program were selected by an independent committee. Each institution will receive $30,000 to help cover expenses stemming from the program.in funding to participate.
Each institution will collect and report completion and attrition data for all underrepresented minority students entering STEM doctoral programs in academic years 1992-93 through 2011-12. They will complete and submit data on program characteristics and policies, practices and interventions that might impact completion and attrition for all STEM Ph.D. programs offered by the institution.
Also as part of the study, each university will conduct a student survey, developed by CGS, covering a set of topics addressing completion and attrition in STEM doctoral programs and host a two-day site visit for CGS project staff to conduct focus groups with students and interviews with graduate deans, faculty and other university personnel.
Another aspect of the study is that each school will highlight its participation in this effort by taking part in national discussions on the topic of Ph.D. completion as part of the CGS Annual Meetings and/or Summer Workshop sessions.
The projected release date of the study’s findings is June 2014.
The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of more than 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 92 percent of the doctoral degrees and 77 percent of the master’s degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.