Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Measurement and Research

Major Professor

John M. Ferron, Ph. D.

Co-Major Professor

Robert F. Dedrick, Ph. D.


Integration, Time-to-Degree, Retention, Survival analysis, Multilevel


Over the years, the time that students take to attain the doctorate, particularly in Education, has been increasing. Given the cost incurred in preparing students, the decrease in years of productivity in the chosen professions, and other opportunity costs, this trend is of great concern to students, the university, and society at large. This dissertation examined the timing of doctorate attainment and the factors related to this timing. Using secondary data (N=1,028 students), discrete-time multilevel hazard analysis was employed to determine the relationship between various factors and the timing of doctorate attainment in a College of Education. Complementary to the quantitative analyses, four student and two faculty focus groups and four follow-up student interviews were conducted to identify factors perceived to influence time to attainment of the doctorate (TTD) in one College of Education at a state university.

Discrete-time multilevel hazard analysis revealed that the median TTD in Education was 5.8 years; students were most likely to attain the doctorate in the seventh year. In each year during the observation period, students' master's grade point average (GPA) score at admission, percentage of female students in the program, and mean graduate record examination (GRE) quantitative score in the program were each positively associated with the odds of doctorate attainment; whereas the size of the department housing the program was negatively associated with the odds of doctorate attainment. Female students were more likely than males to attain the doctorate in each year during the observation period, however, the difference disappeared when clustering of students into programs was considered.

According to students, the way program expectations and requirements are communicated, the nature of the dissertation committee formed, and dissertation topic chosen each had a strong association with TTD. Faculty perceived that whether a student enrolls part-time or full-time, the amount and quality of academic preparation received, and the nature of academic guidance, mentoring and supervision received, each had a strong association with TTD. Both students and faculty concurred that the nature and arrangement of program tasks and resources and the desire to work and attain goals despite obstacles encountered had strong associations with TTD. Implications for policy and practice and suggestions for future research are discussed.