Conceptualizing Success in Doctoral Education: Perspectives of Faculty in Seven Disciplines

The term “success” in higher education has been used widely to describe multiple outcomes, practices, and variables. In doctoral education, in particular, the study of success is paramount as only 50% of those students who enter doctoral education actually complete the degree. The definition of success, however, remains elusive. This study explored the concept of success in doctoral education as expressed by faculty advisors in seven different disciplines. Findings highlighted differences between disciplinary cultures and between departments with high and low completion rates. Implications for policy, practice, and research are included.