Council of Graduate Schools - Ph.D. Completion Project  
Project Information Project Participants Quantitative Data Promising Practices

Research Partner Profile

University of Missouri—Columbia

Principal Investigator
Pam Benoit
Vice Provost for Advanced Studies and Dean of the Graduate School
Tel (573) 882-6311

Co-Principal Investigator
Ronald Drobney
Assistant Dean of the Graduate School
Tel (573) 882-6311

Participating Programs (10)
Animal Sciences
Biological Sciences
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Psychological Sciences
Veterinary Biomedical Sciences

The primary objectives of the proposed project are to develop and assess a series of interventions that wi1l: 1) eliminate the completion rate gap; and, relative to 20 year program averages 2) reduce late attrition by 25%, and 3) reduce early attrition by 15%. Interventions are designed to address both late and early attrition. This developmental approach will be assessed by an evaluation strategy that permits cross-sectional comparisons (within and across disciplines) of completion rates among a single cohort of individuals some of whom participated in an intervention or set of interventions and others who did not.

Proposed Interventions

  • Admissions grid (department-tailored) to identify factors beyond quantitative indicators (e.g. GPA and standardized test scores) and assess their relevance to doctoral completion
  • Pre-admission campus visits
  • Provide completion data to prospective students during campus visits and on departmental and Graduate School websites
  • Develop new online annual student progress evaluation and self-assessment tool
  • Retention services for “at-risk” students
  • Graduate student mentoring workshops as part of New Faculty Teaching Scholars program
  • Conflict resolution workshops
  • Graduate and Professional Women's Network
  • Fellowship block grants : allocate an increasing proportion of all fellowship funds through a departmental “block grant” rather than individual student competitive process. Departmental selection criteria now in use include indicators of depth and diversity of applicant pool, selectivity, and yield; evidence of innovative recruitment and professional development programs; data on retention , completio n, and placement rates, etc.
  • Incorporate exit interview results into graduate program report cards
  • Annual evaluations
  • Comprehensive department graduate student handbooks
  • Enhance DGS/graduate contacts orientation and professional development program
  • Peer mentoring / “colleague circles”
  • Dissertation support group
  • Funding for departmental initiative


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