An Overview of the Michigan Doctoral Experience Study (MDES): Years 1 to 5
The Michigan Doctoral Experience Study (MDES) is an ongoing longitudinal survey of Ph.D. students at the University of Michigan. Its purpose is to advance understanding of the doctoral student experience across the disciplines and over the entire trajectory of graduate study. This brief report summarizes our major areas of learning in the first five years of the study for the cohort of participants starting in 2017.
This set of reports provided yearly summarize salient issues highlighted by doctoral students in MDES.
Student Stress and Well-Being
Mental health and well-being among doctoral students are a local and national concern. We report students’ perceptions of well-being over time and examine possible reasons for these changes. The 2021 report is available and includes data for the last five years of the study.
For more information about Rackham’s efforts to improve the well-being of students see the Health and Well-Being resources page.
Incoming Students Housing Reports
As part of MDES, newly incoming students are asked to report difficulties finding suitable housing in and around Ann Around. We summarize those findings in this report. These findings include data from the last five cohorts of starting doctoral students.
For more information about housing resources visit Rackham’s Student Housing page.
International Student Reports
We ask incoming international students to rate their transition as first-year students. This report summarizes challenges and recommendations provided by students to ease the transition into doctoral studies from the viewpoint of international students. These findings include data from the last five cohorts of starting doctoral students.
Visit Rackham’s International Students page for a list of dedicated resources for international students.
Transition points: well-being and disciplinary identity in the first years of doctoral studies
Gonzalez, J. A., Kim, H., & Flaster, A. (2021). Transition points: well-being and disciplinary identity in the first years of doctoral studies. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education. https://doi.org/10.1108/sgpe-07-2020-0045
In this study we construct developmental trajectories of student well-being and disciplinary identity during the first three years of doctoral studies. We find generally declining trajectories across six distinct groups and use students’ backgrounds and experiences to predict membership in these groups.
Disparities in perceived disciplinary knowledge among new doctoral students
Flaster, A., Glasener, K. M., & Gonzalez, J. A. (2020). Disparities in perceived disciplinary knowledge among new doctoral students. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, 11(2), 215-230. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-05-2019-0053
We examine differences in beginning doctoral students’ perceptions of disciplinary knowledge and find that some personal identities are associated with lower levels of knowledge despite similar educational backgrounds.