DOCTORAL STUDENTS: ATTRITION, RETENTION RATES, MOTIVATION, AND FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS
A Comprehensive Research Guide in Helping Graduate School Students Completing Doctoral Programs
About the Book
For the past 40 years, American college and university administrators have registered record low retention and high attrition rates. Education experts and researchers have claimed the problems are embarrassing to the United States’ higher education institutions. Based on the problems, graduate school administrators are unable to graduate doctoral students at U.S. population growth rates. Currently, only 1% of Americans hold PhD degrees. Compared to other industrialized countries such as Japan, China, and Mexico, the rate is insignificant. The purpose of the mixed methods case study was to investigate if there was a relationship between motivation and retention rates at the doctoral level. The goal of the study was to determine if extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors and constraints were associated with persistence in a graduate doctoral program. Data were collected from 193 doctoral and graduate students for the quantitative study, while 20 doctoral and graduate students participated in a qualitative study followed by a thorough semi-structured interview. Inductive and deductive analyses were performed, transcribed, and opened, while axial coding provided emergent themes and sub-themes. The research showed a direct relationship between financial implications, attrition and retention rates, and motivation in doctoral level students. Many doctoral students believed the primary reason they were unable to pursue doctoral programs was based on financial hardship. Doctoral students who responded to the survey added that motivation was the second significant variable that helped them continue their studies.