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CHAPTER 3 EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES OF GRADUATE FELLOWS Introduction Chapter 2 examined Minority Graduate Fellowship Program (MGFP) applicants’ characteristics and success in obtaining a fellowship offer; this chapter examines the educational success and characteristics of the individual awardees. The following educational outcomes are examined: completion of the Ph.D., quality ranking of the Ph.D.-granting department, and postdoctoral plans. Completion Rates An important indicator of program performance is whether those who are awarded fellowships complete the doctorate. The difference between degree completion rates of program participants and the rates of comparable individuals who did not participate can be used as an indicator of program impact on the supply of new Ph.D.s. This can be assessed by comparisons between Group 2 awardees and Group 2 nonawardees. Degree completion rates can also be used to assess the efficacy of the panelists’ rankings of applicants. This can be done by comparison of degree completion rates between Group 1 awardees and Group 2 awardees. Except where noted, “completion rate” is defined as the percentage of the 1979-1981 cohort of awardees who acquired doctorates during or before 1988. 17 Effects of Field and Quality Group Figure 3-1 summarizes completion rates by Quality Group (Groups 1 and 2) and for Group 2 by award status (awardee/nonawardee). Awardees in Group 1 generally have higher completion rates than awardees in Group 2, and completion rates for each group exceed those of Group 2 nonawardees. The within-field rankings are not universally consistent, however. In the behavioral and social sciences, Group 2 awardees have higher completion rates than Group 1 awardees. 17 This truncated estimate will understate the true completion rate since some awardees can be expected to acquire degrees after 1988. For a detailed discussion of the methodological problems underlying such estimates, see William G. Bowen and Neil L. Rudenstine, In Pursuit of the Ph.D. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 347-359.
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Figure 3-1. Ph.D. completion rates (percent and number) by quality group and field, MGFP, 1979-1981. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-7 . Note: The number completing degrees is shown above the bar. Completion rates are highest in the life sciences and behavioral and social sciences (over 40 percent). The rate for the engineering, mathematics, and physical sciences (EMP) was slightly lower (37 percent--or 19 out of 52 awardees). Within field-gender groups, rates of completion for awardees of this program are compared to similar rates for awardees of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship Program (Figure 3-2). Rates for both male and female minority awardees are lower in EMP fields and for female awardees in life sciences. The rates are higher for female awardees in life and behavioral/social sciences. Although the comparisons among groups and between awardees and nonawardees indicate that the program is having an impact on completion rates, the relatively low rates of completion in EMP fields and for females in life sciences are cause for concern and merit further investigation.
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Figure 3-2. Ph.D. completion rates by field and gender, MGFP and GFP (Graduate Fellowship Program), 1979-1981 cohorts. SOURCES: Appendix Table A-7 (MGF); Baker, Appendix Table A-1, Table A-2, and Table A-12 (GFP). Note: The number completing degrees is shown above the bar.
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Figure 3-3. Median total time to degree (years) by race and field, all U.S. citizen doctorate recipients, 1989. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-8. Are the rates artificially low because of the methods used to estimate them--that is arbitrarily truncating them at 1988? Minorities, particularly blacks, generally take longer to complete the Ph.D. (Figure 3-3). Thus, it is possible that completion rates for the 1979-1981 cohort could improve over time. This improvement will probably not be very large, however. Gender Effects There are large differences in completion rates by gender (Figure 3-4). Over one-half of male Group 1 awardees completed the doctorate, while the success rate for comparable females is one-third. Similar findings are reached for Group 2 awardees. These findings of gender differences persist after the distribution of awardees by field and quality group are accounted for. Within broad field and quality groups, the success rate for males generally exceeds that of females. 18 18 The one exception was EMP Group 2 awardees, where the completion rate was slightly higher for females.
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Figure 3-4. Ph.D. completion rates (percent) for awardees and number completing degrees by quality group, gender, and field, 1979-1981 applicants. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-7 . Notes: The number completing degrees is shown above the bar. G1M = Quality Group 1, males. G1F = Quality Group 1, females. G2M = Quality Group 2, males. G2F = Quality Group 2, females. GRE Scores When awardees and completers are stratified by field and gender, cumulative test scores are 14 points lower for completers in EMP fields (Table 3-1). These scores are 30 to 50 points higher for completers in the life sciences. The results are mixed in the behavioral and social sciences; the scores for completers are 26 points lower for males and 36 points higher for females.
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Table 3-1. Mean GRE Scores of MGFP Applicants and Offerees, by Field and Gender, 1979-1981 Offerees Fellows who Completed Ph.D.s Males Females Males Females EMP 1,279 1,199 1,265 1,185 Life 1,132 1,114 1,164 1,163 Social&Beh 1,100 1,046 1,074 1,082 SOURCES: Cumulative Index of NSF Fellowship Applications and Awardees; Doctorate Records File. Ph.D. Completion by Institution Type Figure 3-5 displays rates of doctorate completion by institutional control. The evidence is not consistent. Awardees from public institutions had about the same rates as those from private institutions. But there were notable differences in these findings when awardees were stratified by field. Awardees who obtained baccalaureate degrees from public institutions have higher completion rates in the EMP fields and the life sciences, but awardees from these types of institutions in the behavioral and social sciences have lower completion rates. The higher rates of completion by awardees who received baccalaureates from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is also notable (Figure 3-6). The differences cannot be attributed to differences in the field mix of awardees. In every field the rate of Ph.D. completion by black awardees from HBCUs was higher than comparable blacks from other types of institutions. Overall, 54.2 percent (13 out of 24) of black awardees from HBCUs completed Ph.D.s compared to 36.7 percent (or 29 out of 79) of other black applicants. The higher rates of Ph.D. completion by graduates of HBCUs suggest that in addition to other possible reasons, these awardees were well prepared to pursue graduate education. These data are also consistent with the hypothesis that the climate of support provided by HBCUs during the undergraduate training period provides a strong foundation for success in graduate training. Quality of Doctorate Program Are these completers receiving their Ph.D.s from the “best” doctorate programs? This section examines the distribution of completers with respect to the quality of
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Special Focus: Sources of Applicants (Baccalaureate Institutions) Where did MGFP applicants come from? Listed below are the top institutions, in rank order by the number of 1979-1981 applicants and awardees: B.A.Origin Applicants Awardees U. of Puerto Rico U. of Puerto Rico MIT U.C. Berkeley Howard U. Harvard U.C. Berkeley Cornell Cornell Stanford Morgan State MIT Princeton Hampton U. U. Michigan Columbia U. (tie) Fisk U. Howard U. (tie) Texas Southern U. Southwestern La. U. (tie) Occidental U. (California) (tie) SOURCE: Cumulative Index of NSF Fellowship Applicants and Awardees. Major research universities and predominantly minority institutions (including HBCUs) are equally represented among the top 10 producers of applicants. Of particular interest is the success of the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras: 60 of the applications to the MGFP during this period listed it as their baccalaureate institution; this crop of applicants resulted in 9 fellows, more than any other undergraduate institution.
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Figure 3-5. Ph.D. completion rates for awardees by control of B.A. institution, 1979-1981 cohort. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-9 . Note: The number completing degrees is shown above the bar. Figure 3-6. Ph.D. completion rates for black awardees by field and type of institution (HBCU vs. non-HBCU), 1979-1981 cohort. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-5 . Note: The number completing degrees is shown above each bar.
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Special Focus: Time Path of Ph.D. Completion How long did it take for an MGFP awardee (1979-1981) to complete the doctorate after a fellowship had been awarded? The table below details Ph.D. awards in years elapsed from fellowship receipt. In all fields of study the most completions occurred 5 years after the fellowship award. The majority of doctorates in life sciences were awarded within 7 years of fellowship award; in EMP and the behavioral and social sciences, the number of awards drops off dramatically after the sixth year from fellowship award. These findings are consistent with the Graduate Fellowship Program, which found that almost 90 percent of all awardees who would complete the Ph.D. did so within 7 years of the fellowship award. Thus, it is unlikely that the number of 1979-1981 fellows completing the Ph.D. will grow appreciably in the future. There is additional evidence to support this hypothesis. Of all MGFP fellows who received awards in 1978 and 1979 (108 fellows), only 2 received doctorates 9 or 10 years after they received their awards. Elapsed Years from Fellowship Application to Ph.D., MGFP Fellows, 1979-1981 Award to Ph.D. (years) EMP Life Soc and Beh Sci N % N % N % 1 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 2 0 0.0 0 0.0 1 1.3 3 2 3.9 0 0.0 4 5.1 4 2 3.9 6 10.3 9 11.5 5 8 15.7 7 12.1 11 14.1 6 5 9.8 6 10.3 6 7.7 7 1 2.0 5 8.6 2 2.6 8 1 2.0 2 3.4 1 1.3 Total Ph.D.s 19 37.3 26 44.8 34 43.6 Total Fellows 51 100.0 58 100.0 78 100.0 SOURCES: Cumulative Index of NSF Fellowship Applicants and Awardees; Doctorate Records File.
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Figure 3-7. Distribution of minority awardees who have completed the doctorate, by faculty ranking of doctorate program and field, 1979-1981. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-10 . Note: The number completing degrees is shown above the bar. degree-granting programs as measured by faculty peers.19 This study examined several characteristics of doctorate-granting programs, such as size, characteristics of graduates, library, research support, and faculty publications. The measure used as an indicator of quality for the purposes of this study is the scholarly quality of program faculty as determined by a nationwide survey of their peers. Specifically, institutions are classified according to whether they are ranked by faculty peers in the top 5 percent of the field-specific programs. Overall, 15 of the 79 doctorate recipients (19 percent) attended higher-rated programs (Figure 3-7). This compares to a rate of 47 percent in the GFP. 20 Eighteen, or 23 percent of the completers received degrees from institutions that were not rated in the 1982 National Research Council study. These findings should be treated with 19 See National Research Council, An Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1982). 20 See Baker, op. cit., pp. 42-45.
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Figure 3-8. Postdoctoral plans for MGFP doctorates and all 1988 Ph.D. recipients with definite commitments, by field. SOURCE: Appendix Table A-11 . caution, however. The number of observations on which they are based is small. 21 Moreover, a substantial percentage of the doctoral recipients received their degrees from programs that were not rated in the 1982 study. Postgraduation Plans of MGFP Doctorate Fellows How successful have MGFP fellows who received doctorates been in securing positions? Figure 3-8 displays information regarding the postgraduation plans of MGFP doctorate recipients and all comparable 1988 doctorate recipients. These tabulations are 21 The numbers of completers by field and quality group (QG) of Ph.D. institution are: Total EMP Life Soc and Behav QG1 37 8 15 14 QG2 42 11 11 20
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based on the prospects of the new doctorate recipients upon receipt of their degrees. The results for doctorate recipients from the NSF Minority Graduate Fellowship Program compare quite favorably with those for all doctorate recipients. The proportion of program doctorates with definite plans exceeds that of all doctorates by almost 14 percentage points (79 vs. 65). Within each field the proportion of doctorate recipients from the program with definite plans exceeds that of all new doctorate recipients. The differential is slightly smaller in life and behavioral and social sciences (9 and 13 percentage points, respectively) but considerably larger in EMP fields (23 percent). Doctorate recipients with definite plans have secured positions to continue study in a postdoctorate research position or have secured permanent employment. In the EMP fields a greater percentage of the program’s completers reported definite plans for employment positions than doctorate recipients in general. In the life and behavioral and social sciences, program completers had greater rates of success at finding postdoctoral research positions. 22 22 A postdoctoral position in the life sciences is of considerable importance to a successful research career. Thus, one could argue that immediate employment upon receipt of the Ph.D. is a less desirable outcome in this field than postdoctoral study. See National Research Council, Committee on Biomedical and Behavioral Research Personnel, Biomedical and Behavioral Research Scientists: Their Training and Supply (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989), p. 80.
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