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

Research Partner Profile

University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

Principal Investigator
Linda A. Dykstra
Dean, The Graduate School
Tel (919) 962-3521

Participating Programs (10)
Biomedical Engineering
Computer Science
Environmental Science and Engineering
Geological Science
Political Science

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will introduce a series of interventions to improve the PhD completion rates that include: 1) expanded opportunities for departments to bring prospective students to campus for recruitment visits 2) support for students to attend professional meetings and 3) engage in other research-related activities, 4) an integrated program of financial support that extends for several years and includes both teaching and interdisciplinary opportunities, 5) workshops to sensitize faculty to the responsibilities and rewards of mentoring and 6) student workshops to create of an inclusive environment, particularly for female and/or underrepresented students in the sciences. Outcomes will be assessed not only by gathering retention data but also by 7) introducing a new set of surveys for enrolled students and for students who complete their training. Finally, 8) data regarding these initiatives will be incorporated into the program review process.

Proposed Interventions

  • Pre-admission campus visits
  • Develop yearly mentoring workshops for faculty mentors and directors of graduate studies
  • Increase the number of fellowship opportunities that include guarantees of multi-year support through a collaborative program involving Graduate School funds, departmental matching drawn from state funds and funds from private sources
  • Increase the availability of travel awards for students to attend and present research at professional meetings
  • Increase summer research support for students in humanities/social science departments
  • Introduce a new exit survey, including CGS requested questions, and distribute the results to faculty and programs
  • Include graduate student outcomes data in the ongoing program review process
  • Organize a forum for students to discuss and participate in successful mentoring experiences


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