Demographic and Attitudinal Factors Influencing Doctoral Student Satisfaction

Sabina Nwenyi, Timothy Baghurst


Higher education administrators face challenges in providing a welcoming environment for doctoral students in higher education institutions, as they must identify factors influencing students’ satisfaction in order to provide a supportive environment, reduce attrition rates, and promote persistence. Thus, the purpose of this study was to identify predictors of doctoral student satisfaction from demographics and attitudes concerning the campus environment. Participants were 132 (33 male, 99 female) doctoral students from two private nonprofit universities in the New York metropolitan area of the United States who completed either a web-based or paper/pencil survey in which demographics and opinions regarding student satisfaction were sought. Regression analysis on participant attitudes found that university services, advisor, and students were all significant predictor variables. Other demographic predictor variables included years in graduate school, race, and ethnicity. Of particular importance, as doctoral students progress in their program by year, dissatisfaction increases. This could be due to the increasing pressures of successfully completing the dissertation, the progress of which can be heavily influenced by advisor-student relationship. Overall findings may assist education administrators and institutional planners in making campus environments welcoming to students thereby increasing both student satisfaction and retention.


Campus environment; Higher education; Perception; Attrition; Persistence; Assessment

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