Dissertation Experiences of Doctoral Graduates from Professional Psychology Programs
Format of Original
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Counselling Psychology Quarterly
Worldwide, dissertation experiences are acknowledged to be challenging endeavors for students and the faculty members who advise them, and dissertation completion continues to be a concern when seeking to improve overall doctoral graduation rates. Although a number of factors have been associated with completion rates across disciplines, further research is needed within professional psychology graduate programs to understand overall student dissertation experiences. In this USA-based investigation, a mixed-method design was used to examine the experiences of 25 professional psychology doctoral graduates’ dissertation experiences, 12 of which were self-identified as positive and 13 as negative. Participants with positive experiences typically had supportive relationships with their dissertation chairs and committee members, which enhanced their research confidence and professional development. Participants with negative dissertation experiences typically had difficult relationships with dissertation chairs and committee members, which was associated with immediate and long-lasting negative consequences for participants’ professional growth and emotional well-being. The advisory working alliance was stronger for graduates with positive than negative experiences, although research attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs were not different between the two groups.