Document Type

Doctor of Education Capstone

Original Publication Date



Virginia Commonwealth University Graduate School


Richmond, VA

Date of Submission

June 2020


Research on doctoral education primarily focuses on broad fields of study and general attrition. Often overlooked, is an examination of the student at each stage of their program and the challenges they face that can potentially lead to stopping out. This capstone project explored the doctoral student experience within the Department of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. A mixed method study via an online survey was utilized to gather data about the student experience on their path towards candidacy. Quantitative and qualitative data was analyzed through Chi-square tests and thematic coding to identify answers to each research question. This paper aims to inform students, faculty, and administrators, of common attrition points on a doctoral student’s path to completion. In addition, this research aims to use the data to identify interventions that will support doctoral students in their journey and increase retention rates.


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