The effects of race and gender on the satisfaction levels of entering and advanced level doctoral students

Tiffany Nicole Labon, University of Southern Mississippi


Doctoral education is an aspect of higher education that can be both rewarding and challenging for anyone who attempts the journey. Thelin (2004) stated many graduate students obtain the necessary skills that their individual fields of study require in their master's and doctoral programs of study. Levine (2005), however, has found that the levels of satisfaction between what students expect and what they receive are at odds at many colleges and universities around the country. Thus, the need to assess graduate programs and services regarding satisfaction is warranted. The purpose of this study was to compare the relationship of overall graduate program satisfaction between entering and advanced level doctoral students in relation to four dependent variables: race, gender, academic college, and attendance status (full-time or part-time). Using the modified survey developed by Nettles and Millett (2006), the researcher collected data at the selected university from 243 doctoral students. Upon analysis, the researcher found that none of the four dependent variables were statistically significant with the level of satisfaction at the selected university. However, the qualitative portion of the study revealed four categories of (dis)satisfaction: relationship with peers; relationship with faculty; program structure and organization; and support services. The researcher found multiple themes from the analysis: time-to-degree; departmental/administrative issues; satisfaction; alternative/course (delivery) format/course satisfaction; university/climate/support services; social/socialization; and, student's knowledge/research/experience. With this, the researcher provided a list of action research projects for the university to consider for future improvement for their students.