Council of Graduate Schools - Ph.D. Completion Project  
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Washington University—St. Louis

Principal Investigator
Robert E. Thach
Dean, Graduate School
Tel (314) 935-6843
thach@wustl.edu

Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director
Nancy Pope
Assistant Dean
Tel (314) 935-6848
nppope@artsci.wustl.edu

Participating Programs (8)
Biology and Biomedical Sciences
Chemistry
Earth and Planetary Sciences
English
History
Mathematics
Physics
Political Science

Abstract
One of our three motivations for participating in this project is to engage in rigorous assessment of interventions, so that we might continue, after the grant period, whatever is certainly effective—and not continue whatever turns out to have little effect. A second motivation is to take advantage of such an assessment process to improve our understanding as to whether the same interventions work equally well for students of different gender, race/ethnicity, and citizenship. And the third motivation is to seek the upper limit of possible completion rates by making finely-tuned changes in programs that are already generally successful but that, like the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, want to maximize their success.

Proposed Interventions

  • Identify students and faculty who could help recruit underrepresented minorities
  • Host social events during prospective students’ visits
  • Long-term tracking of entering cohorts to ensure successful mentoring of students from underrepresented groups
  • Faculty travel abroad to interview prospective international students
  • Travel for domestic students abroad to attend admitted students’ weekend
  • Bring recent alumni to speak with the admitted students
  • Produce recruiting materials with fuller information about program/discipline to prospective applicants and those admitted unable to attend orientation weekend
  • Peer mentoring
    • Advanced student/peer mentor discussion groups for improving mentoring 4 science departments will pilot long-term assessment of peer mentoring on Ph.D. completion and student satisfaction with graduate experience
    • Interdisciplinary humanities dissertation groups
  • Dissertation workshops with invited scholars from outside university
  • Expand access of dissertation groups to more ABD’s and relevant faculty
  • Replicate model of dissertation groups based on subfields
  • Arrange for monthly student/faculty meetings and weekly peer meetings
  • GSAS newsletter showcasing achievements of students as researchers, teachers, leaders, or volunteers
  • Enhance Web site to inform students of opportunities for community service and of interdisciplinary opportunities, such as graduate certificates, joint degrees, and events and courses in different Schools
  • Workshops for all departmental staff who work with graduate students, e.g., on factors that directly affect and are affected by Ph.D. completion and attrition


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