Council of Graduate Schools - Ph.D. Completion Project  
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Research Partner Profile

Cornell University

Principal Investigator
Alison G. Power
Dean, Graduate School
(607) 255-7374

Participating Programs (10)
Computer Science
East Asian Literature
Genetics and Development
Mechanical Engineering
Natural Resources

As a result of Cornell Universityís participation in Phase I of the CGS Ph.D. Completion Project, the Graduate School has drawn the attention of various institutional constituencies to the problem of Ph.D. attrition. It is well known that low rates of doctoral degree completion are detrimental to universities, to society, and to individual students. During Phase I Cornell analyzed patterns of attrition, to understand the root causes of attrition under local conditions, and to formulate effective intervention strategies. These efforts will continue during Phase II, and Cornell will implement strategies to reduce the attrition rates of all students, and also pursue additional activities targeted explicitly toward underrepresented student groups.


  • Continue to enhance our annual Dissertation Retreat for ABD students in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Develop early intervention programs for dissertation assistance in collaboration with Cornellís J. S. Knight Writing Institute.
  • Develop workshops and other programming on building excellent mentoring relationships for faculty and students.
  • Continue to enhance mentoring materials.
  • Continue the Deanís address on mentoring graduate students at the annual Provostís Orientation for New Faculty.
  • Assess the state of our current knowledge about, attitudes towards, and practices in support of URM students and women in the physical sciences via web surveys and focus groups of differing composition.
  • Design and pilot test a three-to-five day summer program aimed at preparing incoming underrepresented doctoral students for graduate study and their programs.


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