Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


This study aims to explore the experiences of graduate students who are in the process of obtaining a Ph.D. in chemistry, as well as to better understand the culture of graduate chemistry programs. This study is important in the field because attrition rates in graduate school have been holding steady around 50% for at least 40 years, despite rising numbers in enrollment.  The negative impacts this has on individuals and universities alike are rationale for investigating students’ experiences and the interplay with the culture. While socialization and relationship with advisor in graduate school has been shown to be important for graduate student retention, satisfaction, and success, more work needs to be done to expand our understanding with a cultural perspective. My purposes in interviewing chemistry Ph.D. students are to uncover nuances in their experiences with possible connections to frameworks such as Community Cultural Wealth and Funds of Knowledge. My guiding questions throughout my pilot study are: What are the experiences of chemistry graduate students as they obtain their Ph.D.? and what are the various ways that the culture/climate of graduate school and the chemistry department affect the student and have an impact on their experience?