Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Margaret Rogers

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine the experiences of European American students as they obtain advanced degrees in psychology. The study investigated what European American students find supportive and unsupportive as they pursue their doctoral degrees. The participants of this study consisted of 12 graduate students. Qualitative methods were employed, and data obtained through semi-structured interviews was analyzed using content analysis. The interviews revealed factors that students believe have facilitated their success in graduate school, as well as challenges experienced during graduate school, and the types of strategies they used when faced with obstacles. The participants were also asked about the experiences of their peers of color within their graduate programs. The results showed that the European American students have multiple factors that have facilitated their success in graduate school such as support from faculty, mentors, other students, and self-motivation. Participants also reported negative experiences such as lack of program structure and interpersonal challenges. In terms of strategies they used when faced with obstacles, the majority of participants stated that they relied on family and friends outside of school as well as engaged in self-care practices such as exercising. When asked about their perceptions of the experiences of their peers of color, most participants stated that their peers of color often feel uncomfortable within their graduate programs. One limitation of the study was that this study utilized audio-recorded telephone interviews, which may have impacted the rapport between the researchers and the participants. Another limitation of the study was that the participants were recruited from similar networks, which may have led to them responding in a similar manner. Future research should replicate this study to examine if doctoral students in disciplines other than psychology have similarities or differences in the factors they find supportive and challenging during their graduate studies.

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