In studies of diversity in higher education, little attention has been focused on the graduate level. In a 2007 study, the Council of Graduate Schools showed how underrepresented racial minority doctoral students in engineering completed their degrees at lesser rates than their majority peers. To further affirm the need for such research, in the NSF’s “Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2017” report, underrepresented racial minorities are shown to have obtained only 5% of all the doctoral degrees awarded in the US.
In an effort to address the issue, we have developed the Dissertation Institute as a week-long intervention for doctoral students at the end of their Ph.D. process as a way to provide resources, motivation, mentoring, and community. Through our designing and hosting the institute in 2017 we have collected findings about underrepresented racial minority students’ struggles and needs in their journey toward doctoral degree completion. This session aims to share underrepresented racial minority students’ perspectives regarding their doctoral pursuit and help participants identify ways to support minority graduate students in their home institutions.