Over 30 percent of doctoral candidates fail to earn
the PhD, while the majority who successfully attain the doctorate earn it in an
average of 7.7 years (Glen, 2010). These statistics speak to the commitment
required to earn the degree and the importance of preparation and mentorship (Davis,
2008) as one embarks upon the doctoral journey. Is pursuit of the doctorate the
ultimate intellectual “survival of the fittest” challenge? Are there common
characteristics and experiences that result in success while earning the PhD?
Can examining the experiences of individuals successful in pursuing the
doctorate lead us towards learning how to increase success rates and decrease
The intent of this work is to address
these questions and highlight the experiences of those who have earned or are
in pursuit of the doctorate. Through learning from the varied experiences of
those who have earned or are striving towards the highest academic degree in
higher education, we can understand what characteristics assist in rendering
success and completion. In addition, by considering the challenges and
struggles faced by those holding and pursuing the doctorate, leaders in higher
education can determine what strategies may work in ameliorating the process
and creating greater equity in terms of graduate education outcomes.
Co-edited by Cristina Artenie and Dannielle Joy Davis, the volume is the result of an extraordinary cooperation between Universitas Press, an independent academic press founded by recent PhD holders, and Dr. Dannielle Joy Davis, Associate Professor of Higher Education at Saint Louis University, Missouri. A great number of the contributions in this volume were received as a result of meetings at academic events; another significant number came from PhD holders answering our call for papers. Contributions from PhD candidates came from Dr. Davis's students.