Special Issue "Reimagining Equitable Student Support across Phases of Graduate Education"

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Higher Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 January 2024 | Viewed by 566

Special Issue Editors

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA
Interests: equity-minded mentoring; diversity and equity in doctoral education; pathways to and through graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; critical theoretical and methodological approaches
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA
Interests: diversity and equity in doctoral education; black women’s experiences in higher education; mentoring; professional development; critical and black feminist theoretical and qualitative approaches

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In our globalized, interconnected society, graduate education and graduate degree recipients have played a large role in generating knowledge, leadership, and innovations across generations. However, many tensions currently characterize graduate education (including master’s, doctoral, and professional programs), such as the oscillating economic and perceived value of a graduate degree (e.g., Bryan & Guccione, 2018; Shin et al., 2018), a dearth of tenure-track faculty jobs in the United States (refer to Feldon et al., 2023), stratification in graduate education (e.g., Nerad, 2020; Posselt & Grodsky, 2017), and persistent inequalities in student experiences across social identities (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, social class, dis/ability, and sexual identity; Bertrand Jones et al., 2013; Bryer, 2022; Koren & Evans-El, 2020; Knutson et al., 2022; Ong et al., 2011; Perez et al., 2020; Wofford & Blaney, 2021). Although such tensions have created barriers in our opportunity to think about graduate education as a potential educational space for radical hope, humanity, love, creativity, and community, there remains a sincere need to reconsider the mechanisms of support in graduate education that can push the existing boundaries of these degree programs toward becoming structures of holistic, equitable support and student development.

Across many countries and disciplines, there is a wide variety of graduate degree programs and distinct phases of education for students in these programs. For example, graduate programs in Chemistry are vastly different from those in Rhetoric and Composition; thus, students’ experiences and paths toward degree completion are unique. These distinctions call for varied levels and dimensions of support for students, especially those who have been historically minoritized in graduate education. In these simultaneously distinct yet overlapping phases of graduate education—across degrees, fields, and disciplines—educational leaders and partners should hold increased interest in developing multidimensional layers of support. We must have commitments from leaders and partners at various levels, including the disciplinary field, organization/department, and the interpersonal levels if we hope to advance equity among graduate students’ experiences and in their development as scholars and educators.

Designing equitable systems of support to meet students’ needs requires us to consider what “support” entails more broadly and holistically than has often been the case. Indeed, support is complex and often lives at the nexus of practical, theoretical, or philosophical, and scholarly experiences in graduate education. Existing scholarship has often considered support in unidimensional focus areas (e.g., faculty advisors, peer support, and funding support), but it is also imperative to consider the overlapping nature of interpersonal, institutional, and systemic support.

In this Special Issue of Education Sciences, we invite researchers and practitioners to consider how we transform support in graduate education. Meeting this call requires that scholars and educators (re)consider and (re)design what is known as support, how current notions of support do/do not serve graduate students, and how systems of support can be holistically designed, implemented, and refined through praxis. Proposals to this Special Issue of Education Sciences may use the following questions to guide prospective submissions:

  • How can scholars of graduate education advance notions of equitable support in multiple dimensions (e.g., structural levels of support through disciplinary organizations, institutional or departmental support, and individual support)? Who are the relevant leaders/partners in these dimensions?
  • How can support in graduate education be understood through a lens of equity and equity mindedness?
  • How have diverse (e.g., minoritized and marginalized) groups’ experiences of support, or lack thereof, shaped their experiences and im/possibilities toward success? What institutional affordances or constraints have contributed to these experiences?
  • How can varying phases of graduate education (e.g., coursework, capstone, internships, and dissertations) be examined and understood in ways that prioritize student agency?
  • How do distinctions in graduate programs call for unique solutions to distinct problems of support? What solutions from different disciplines can be modified to suit other disciplines?
  • What possibilities are there to draw from new or underutilized theoretical and conceptual frameworks in advancing equitable support for graduate students? What new possibilities or innovations could emerge to guide policy about and practice for advancing equitable support for graduate students?

We encourage both conceptual and empirical article submissions from scholars in higher education and related fields. Empirical articles may draw from a wide variety of methods and methodologies (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, and mixed). Further, we support partnerships between researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and/or other invested leaders and partners in this topic area.

We look forward to reviewing your important submissions addressing the mechanisms of equitable student support in varying phases of graduate education.


Bertrand Jones, T., Wilder, J. A., & Osborne-Lampkin, L. (2013). Employing a Black feminist approach to doctoral advising: Preparing Black women for the professoriate. Journal of Negro Education, 82(3), 326–338.

Bryan, B., & Guccione, K. (2018). Was it worth it? A qualitative exploration into graduate perceptions of doctoral value. Higher Education Research & Development37(6), 1124–1140.

Bryer, E. (2022). My debt? Our debt? Ambiguity and advantage in family financial assistance for graduate school. Sociological Forum, 37(3), 856–879.

Feldon, D. F., Wofford, A. M., Blaney, J. M. (2023). Ph.D. pathways to the professoriate: Affordances and constraints of institutional structures, individual agency, and social systems. In L.W. Perna (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. 38, pp. 325–414). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06696-2_4.

Koren, E. R., & Evans-El, S. X. (2020). Laissez-faire ableism in the academy: Contouring the map with graduate student perspectives. Critical Education11(14), 14–30.

Knutson, D., Matsuno, E., Goldbach, C., Hashtpari, H., & Smith, N. G. (2022). Advocating for transgender and nonbinary affirmative spaces in graduate education. Higher Education83(2), 461–479.

Nerad, M. (2020). Governmental innovation policies, globalisation, and change in doctoral education worldwide: Are doctoral programmes converging? Trends and tensions. In S. Cardoso, O. Tavares, C. Sin, & T. Carvalho (Eds.), Structural and institutional transformations in doctoral education: Social, political and student expectations (pp. 43–84). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-38046-5_3.

Ong, M., Wright, C., Espinosa, L., & Orfield, G. (2011). Inside the double bind: A synthesis of empirical research on undergraduate and graduate women of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Harvard educational review81(2), 172–209.

Perez, R. J., Harris, Jr, L. W., Robbins, C. K., & Montgomery, C. (2020). Graduate students’ agency and resistance after oppressive experiences. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education11(1), 57–71.

Shin, J. C., Postiglione, G. A., & Ho, K. C. (2018). Challenges for doctoral education in East Asia: A global and comparative perspective. Asia Pacific Education Review, 19, 141–155.

Wofford, A. M., & Blaney, J. M. (2021). (Re) shaping the socialization of scientific labs: Understanding women's doctoral experiences in STEM lab rotations. The Review of Higher Education44(3), 357–386.

Dr. Annie M. Wofford
Dr. Tamara Bertrand Jones
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • graduate education
  • doctoral education
  • master’s degrees
  • professional education
  • graduate students
  • postdocs
  • mentoring
  • socialization
  • equity in higher education

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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