COVID-19 has rapidly upended graduate students’ learning, research, and teaching.

  • Carefully crafted career paths that often require substantial investments by both the student and the students’ institution have been placed at risk due to limited access to classrooms and labs, disruption in collaboration, increased stress and anxiety, and new responsibilities for children and older relatives. This impact is particularly acute for graduate students with marginalized identities (e.g., Students of Color, low-income students) who are often already struggling with existing inequalities. If graduate students do not feel supported during this critical period, the U.S. may suffer a dramatic decline in the effectiveness of its graduate-level training, resulting in long-term negative impacts on the U.S. scientific knowledge base and the broader U.S. economy.
  • This National Science Foundation RAPID award to Montana State University, Iowa State University, and Texas A&M-Commerce will support research on postsecondary institutional policies and practices that are designed to help graduate students feel supported during the COVID-19 pandemic and how this support influenced their educational and career decision-making.

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  • The study will contribute to a research base for graduate school administrators and faculty about how to immediately help the broadest range of graduate students during a crisis, as well as what strategies might be most effective for supporting graduate students as they make degree and career-related decisions as society emerges from the crisis.
  • The project is a multi-institution, two-phase explanatory mixed method study of graduate students’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, their perceptions of institutional support, and related educational and career decision-making.  The research team will solicit institutional participation and disseminate questionnaires to graduate student populations. Team members will then conduct virtual focus groups to explore in-depth students’ experiences and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how these experiences relate to their identities, persistence, and career aspirations. The researchers will then integrate both quantitative and qualitative data to further interpret, explain, and provide new insights to understanding graduate student experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Analyses will pay particular attention to student experiences related to race, class, gender, and other socio-demographic factors.
  • Results of the research will be disseminated through peer reviewed scholarship, a white paper, and workshops providing graduate college leadership with research-based guidelines on how to support the broadest range of their graduate students during a time of crisis.