Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




David W. Leslie


Given the absence of a comprehensive theory of doctoral student persistence within the current literature base, the purpose of this study was to propose and test a model that would predict doctoral degree completion using an integrated scheme of background, financial support, and experience variables between Black and White students. The impact and interaction of these variables was explored individually and collectively to describe a concept defined as situatedness. The situatedness model illustrates that a student's background is related to the financial support they receive in doctoral programs; in turn, these factors are connected to a student's departmental and personal experiences, which are all directly related to doctoral degree completion.;The situatedness model was found to be useful in conceptualizing doctoral degree completion, but it illustrated that that there are other variables that cause disparities in completion among Black and White doctoral students. The situatedness model indicated that financial support factors affect doctoral degree completion among Black and White students. For Whites, the situatedness model indicated that the total amount of grant aid, the amount borrowed for education, teaching assistantships, and private/outside sources of aid were independent and significant predictors of doctoral degree completion. For Blacks, the situatedness model indicated that income and outside sources of aid were predictive of degree completion. The findings of this study suggest that finances are the most important predictor of degree completion for both groups. The disparity in sources of funding for Blacks and Whites highlight many of the differences in experiences and outcomes between the groups.



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