Tapping into early PhD aspirations to advance gender equity in computing: predicting PhD interest among upward transfer students

Jennifer M. Blaney, David F. Feldon, Kaylee Litson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Supporting community college transfer students represents a critical strategy for broadening participation in STEM. In addition to being a racially diverse group, students who pursue STEM degrees by way of community college report frequent interests in graduate study and academic careers. Thus, supporting and expanding transfer students’ PhD interests can help to diversify the STEM professoriate. This study aims to identify the experiences that predict PhD interests among students who transferred into the computer science major from a community college. Design/methodology/approach: Relying on longitudinal survey data from over 150 community college transfer students throughout their first year at their receiving four-year university, we used regression analysis to identify the post-transfer college experiences that predict early interest in PhDs. Findings: We found that receiving information about PhDs from a professor strongly predicted PhD interest among transfer students. Relationships with other variables indicate that the provision of information about graduate school was more likely to occur for students who participated in undergraduate research experiences than for those participating in internships. Descriptive data document inequities in who has access to these types of experiences. Originality/value: This paper provides new insight into how STEM departments can develop targeted efforts to ensure that information about PhD training is equitably available to all transfer students. Working to ensure that faculty equitably communicate with students about PhD opportunities may go a long way in countering potential deterrents among transfer students who may be interested in such pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalStudies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Community college transfer
  • Computer science
  • Computer science majors
  • OLS regression
  • PhD interest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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