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

Research Partner Profile

University of Notre Dame and Purdue University (consortium)

Principal Investigator (Notre Dame)
Don Pope-Davis
Interim Vice President for Graduate Studies & Research
Tel (574) 631-4694

Co-Principal Investigator (Purdue)
Cindy Nakatsu
Interim Dean of the Graduate School
Tel (765) 494-2604

Co-Principal Investigator
and Primary Contact for the Project
(Notre Dame)
Cecilia Lucero
Assistant to the Dean
Tel (574) 631-7421

Participating Programs (Notre Dame) (14)
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Biological Sciences
Chemical Engineering
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
English Literature
Political Science

Participating Programs (Purdue) (14)
Biological Sciences
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Political Science
Psychological Sciences
Sociology and Anthropology

The graduate school staffs of Purdue and Notre Dame have developed two strategies to affect attrition that are not currently being employed on either campus. Both require graduate school leadership and management to succeed. The first intervention is a joint venture between the graduate school and individual academic departments to implement a peer-mentoring program, where advanced students work to integrate an incoming student into the departmental culture. This intervention may prove to be very important in the retention of women, U.S. students of color, and international students who constitute a distinct minority in a department. The second intervention is a joint project among the Graduate School, Career Development Center, and graduate advisors to treat attrition, not as a failure, but as a starting point for a new career track. If this turning-point in a young person’s life can be perceived as structured and positive, then attrition will occur earlier saving the student and institution time, money and much resentment. Therefore, the third goal of this study is to implement and monitor the effectiveness of both a peer-mentoring and a careers for masters program.

Proposed Interventions

  • A survey to identify graduate policies and procedures that are associated with attrition concerning graduate admissions, training, and placement between 1985 and today. Interviews of faculty and administrators and reviews of university literature will be the primary sources of information for identifying policies and practices. The interview will consist of a series of open-ended questions in the following areas:
    • Student selection
    • Coursework
    • Research, advising, and professional development
    • Financial support and departmental service
    • Departmental assessment of student progress
    • Departmental/institutional environment
    • Career development and placement
  • Survey tracking of students and assessing their knowledge, confidence, and satisfaction throughout their doctoral experience
  • Peer Mentoring Program
  • Careers for Masters Program to bridge the department and the career development office


Tools and Templates
Contact Information


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