The funds will be used as part of the CGS Ph.D. Completion Project, an initiative aimed at increasing completion of doctoral programs and providing practical models that can be used by graduate schools nationwide to retain graduate students. Attrition from Ph.D. programs across the nation currently averages 30 to 50 percent. The UGA Graduate School will work in conjunction with the University of Florida and North Carolina State University to launch successful interventions for doctoral completion in select science, engineering, math, social sciences and humanities departments within the three schools.
"We are so excited and honored about being selected to receive this grant," said Maureen Grasso, dean of the UGA Graduate School. "By being able to examine reasons why students do not complete their degrees, we will be able to offer solutions that will help them through an extremely challenging time in their lives. If we can assist them in finishing their programs, we all benefit from their later contributions to society."
UGA was one of 18 graduate institutions awarded the grant and was selected to participate based on the quality of the use of current research in proposing strategies to reduce attrition for all students. As part of the process, applicants for the grant defined the doctoral attrition problems for students, particularly minorities and women, that each program is trying to address and outlined the specific sets of interventions that would be initiated to reduce the number of students who do not complete their degrees. The project is supported by Pfizer, Inc. for the science, engineering and mathematics fields, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation to include the social sciences and humanities.
By accepting the grant, the UGA Graduate School has committed to collecting detailed data on entering doctoral students and conducting exit surveys of all students leaving or graduating from the programs. The data will be analyzed and used to identify areas of improvement in Ph.D. completion, as well as to set goals, recognize successes and attract prospective students. The Graduate School has also agreed to continue the monitoring process for an allotted time after the grant has ended.