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

Research Partner Profile

University of Maryland—Baltimore County

Principal Investigator
Janet Rutledge
Interim Vice Provost, Graduate Education
Tel (410) 455-1781

Participating Programs (20)
Applied Developmental Psychology
Applied Mathematics
Applied Statistics
Atmospheric Physics
Biological Sciences
Chemical Engineering
Computer Engineering
Computer Science
Electrical Engineering
Human Services Psychology
Information Systems
Language, Literature & Culture
Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science
Mechanical Engineering
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Neural and Cognitive Science

UMBC is focusing on three overarching areas: building community among graduate students, developing support and mentoring for our students and for our faculty, and requiring accountability from our programs. Implementation of interventions in the 6 areas identified in the CGS research is already underway. Some of these cut across all programs whereas others are specific to particular disciplines. Attrition of women and minorities in STEM fields in particular continues to be a challenge nationally and we have several interventions that are specific to these groups.

Proposed Interventions

  • Enhance funding to students for pre-enrollment campus visits
  • Provide funding for underrepresented minority admits who are unable to pay for pre-enrollment campus visits
  • Work with departments to develop tailored criteria to select the “best” students
  • Develop a graduate student “survival skills” handbook
  • Encourage graduate programs to develop specific handbooks that clarify expectations
  • Review success of existing retention strategies and discuss results with GPDs/faculty
  • Encourage all programs to establish an effective annual review system
  • Enhance Dissertation Fellowship Award program to provide students with release time from work to complete writing and/or data collection
  • Include graduate student completion and attrition data in the analysis of program performance and make distribution adjustments as appropriate
  • Encourage faculty mentors to foster student exposure at professional society meetings through currently existing research/travel grant program
  • Explore discipline-appropriate approaches to get students engaged and thinking earlier in the process about the later stages of their Ph.D. programs
  • Incorporate Ph.D. attrition and completion data into external program review processes
  • Oral exit interviews and exit surveys
  • Encourage more opportunities for students to interact with seminar series speakers
  • Encourage informal gatherings on a more frequent basis and student attendance


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