Council of Graduate Schools - Ph.D. Completion Project  
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Project Information


In 2002 and 2003, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation, CGS engaged key stakeholders in a national discussion about ways to address the challenge of Ph.D. completion. A background paper that summarized the current state of knowledge regarding Ph.D. attrition and completion served as the basis for an April 2003 invitational workshop. The conference brought together 47 key stakeholders and experts, including participants from the communities of researchers, data custodians, disciplinary society research directors, recent doctoral students, and graduate deans – as well as CGS, NSF, and Sloan staff.

The conference produced a consensus on many aspects of the Ph.D. completion issue and generated enthusiastic support for a recommendation to launch a transformational effort to dramatically increase the completion rates of domestic doctoral students through a set of pilot projects led by U.S. graduate school deans. Acting on this recommendation, CGS has focused first on projects that will have a direct impact on the production of minority and women Ph.D. graduates in the social sciences and humanities, as well as science, engineering, and mathematics fields.

To learn more about the results of this meeting, please refer to CGS’s 2004 publication, Ph.D. Completion and Attrition: Policy, Numbers, Leadership, and Next Steps.

Phase 1

Following the conference, CGS submitted proposals to Pfizer Inc and the Ford Foundation for a three-year project on Ph.D. completion. These organizations provided $2.6 million in grants for the Ph.D. Completion Project.

CGS solicited and received an extraordinarily competitive pool of proposals to participate in the project. In November 2004, CGS announced awards to 21 universities designated “Research Partners” that received funding to participate in a rigorous regimen of data collection, interventions, and assessment. CGS invited each institution that submitted a proposal to participate as a "Project Partner." Twenty-one universities joined the project as Project Partners.

Phase 2

In 2006 CGS solicited and received $2.4 million in grants from Pfizer Inc and the Ford Foundation for Phase II (2007-2010) of the Ph.D. Completion Project. This phase expands the number of participating universities and enables select current partners to extend and enhance activities for an additional three years. In May 2007, CGS announced awards to 22 Research Partners. Eight universities will receive first-time funding and fourteen universities will receive continuing financial support. An additional 15 institutions will participate as project partners.

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