Factors Impacting the Retention of Students of Color in Graduate Programs: A Qualitative Study

Fallon Trent, Carissa Dwiwardani, Cassandra Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study explored factors contributing to the retention of students of color while pursuing a graduate degree at a predominantly White institution. Ten students of color (9 female; 23 to 31 years old) participated in the study. Eight were pursuing a doctorate in psychology. Two were pursuing a master's degree in higher education and anthropology. Participants represented various U.S. geographical regions, including Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Southwest. Participants emphasized the important role racial identity salience played in their perception of the program environment and navigating challenges unique to their experiences as students of color. They indicated that program racial climate, availability and quality of social support within their program, access to resources and support outside of their program, and individual resilience each had a critical part in persistence toward degree completion. The results suggest that the following are key in retaining students of color: learning environments that are safe, inclusive, and acknowledge the multiple facets of their identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTraining and Education in Professional Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


  • Attrition
  • Graduate students
  • Higher education
  • Student retention
  • Students of color

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychology(all)


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