Study: Ph.D. Completion Rates Vary By Gender, Race

International students, men and Whites complete their Ph.D. requirements faster than domestic, women and minority students, according to a Council of Graduate Schools study being released today.

The Ph.D. Completion Project tracked the completion and attrition of doctoral students who started their studies at 24 institutions between 1992 and 1995. The study found that 67 percent of international students completed their studies within 10 years, 13 percentage points higher than domestic students.

The cumulative 10-year completion rate for men was 58 compared to 55 percent for women. Women had a higher rate for social sciences and humanities, while the completion rate in engineering, life sciences and math and physical sciences was significantly higher for men than for women. Women were also more likely to take longer to complete their degrees: 25 percent of women completed after the seventh year, while 18 percent of men did.

Said CGS President Debra W. Stewart: “This analysis gives us a baseline that we can use to measure the impact of new policies and practices designed to increase Ph.D. completion rates, particularly for women and minorities. We expect that what we learn from this project will transform our understanding of the factors contributing to higher completion rates.”

By race and ethnicity, the study found that Whites had the highest 10-year completion rate at 55 percent, followed by Hispanic Americans at 51 percent, Asian Americans at 50 percent and African Americans at 47 percent.

Hispanic Americans had the highest late completion rate; that is, 36 percent finished their doctoral requirements after year seven, compared to 27 percent of Blacks and 23 percent of Asian Americans and Whites.

The study also analyzed differences by discipline:

This is the second report by CGS on what it calls “the largest analysis to date of data on doctoral students.” Researchers plan to follow this report with an analysis of exit interviews with students who finished their Ph.D.s and those who did not



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