The Development of Doctoral Students: Phases of Challenge and Support

Gardner, S. (2009)

Josey-Bass, San Franciso CA


This monograph seeks to inform faculty, staff, administrators, and students about the nature of and structure in doctoral programs that lead to doctoral student development. It is accomplished through succeeding chapters, focusing first on an overview of existing student development theory and then on the structure of doctoral education and its role in the three phases of development. 

In other words, the succeeding chapters provide an understanding of the who” in doctoral education in the United States, followed by an understanding of the what,” why,” and how” of students’ development. For those unfamiliar with the subject, Student Development Theory: A Primer” offers a brief primer on the topic of student development, including an overview of predominant theories in the field and how they pertain to doctoral student education in general. Understanding Doctoral Education” provides an explanation of doctoral education, its structure, and its constituencies. This chapter aims to offer readers a basic understanding of the history of doctoral education in the United States, the primary types of doctoral degrees, and an overview of the institutions that offer the doctorate as well as the students, faculty members, and administrators involved in the development of the student on a daily basis. 

The subsequent three chapters detail the three phases of doctoral student development. Each of these chapters includes information about the specific challenges and support characteristic of the phase as well as quotes from qualitative interviews to demonstrate the development that occurs. Phase I: Entry” encompasses the conceptualization of Phase I, including the time of admission and the first experiences in the graduate program. Phase II: Integration” speaks to the second phase of the doctoral student experience. During this phase, students are in the midst of completing coursework and preparing for examinations, developing relationships with peers and faculty, and beginning to understand the professional role that they seek to obtain. Phase III: Candidacy” addresses the last phase, including the time students spend in candidacy at the doctoral level or the culmination of their doctoral program. 

The final chapter culminates with an overview and summary of the framework and its implications for policy, practice, and further research.

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