Grantee Research

Diversifying Graduate Education: The Need to First Understand What Contributes to Graduate Degree Aspiration Changes During College

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



graduate school diversity, educational aspirations, race


Historically, graduate aspirations have been treated as fixed constructs, which neglects to consider that while students may begin college with or without a graduate degree aspiration, they may change their plan when progress through college years. Using data from the 2012/14 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, this study looks at how college students change their graduate degree aspirations between freshman year and junior year and what shapes students’ decisions in graduate degree aspirations. The results reveal racial differences in graduate degree aspiration changes during college years and indicate community colleges may serve an equal function as four-year institutions to help students keep up with their graduate degree plans. Findings have implications for campus leaders and administrators who seek to create and maintain environments that support college students’ development and their graduate degree goals.