Date of Award

Fall 1-7-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito Norris

Second Advisor

Dr. Janice B. Fournillier

Third Advisor

Dr. Joyce E.. King

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Tammy McCoy


The Ph.D. is the pinnacle of education. The Ph.D. produces scholars who impact a discipline, the institution, and society. Expectations of scholars include demonstrating intellectual mastery in the field, conducting research, and creating new or expanding current knowledge. It is within the context of doctoral education socialization, where attitudes and values of the professoriate are firmly shaped. Faculty and administrators, considered the foundational socialization agents, facilitate teaching and learning of Ph.D. students into the culture of education programs and academia. The Ph.D. experience is wrought with challenges and successes within and beyond the ivory tower. Experiences within academia highlight supervisor/advisor relationships, coursework, comprehensive exams, and the dissertation process. Experiences outside of academia, include family responsibilities, career obligations, and managing physical and mental health. Informed by constructionism, the study highlighted the experiences of Ph.D. students in education programs. Leaning on three theoretical frameworks of human capital, cultural capital and role identity theory, Ph.D. student experiences in and outside of academia were examined through interviews, documents, and photo essays. Mission statements of the institution, the college, and the program were examined to highlight the (mis)alignment of the statements with doctoral student experiences. Three research questions guided the study: 1) How do Ph.D. students experience doctoral education? 2) How do Ph.D. students’ experiences align with their institution/college/program mission statements? 3) How do Ph.D. students’ academic and life experiences align with the historical purpose of doctoral education? The research study, employing heuristic inquiry and narrative inquiry, examined the experiences of fifteen doctoral students in education programs in the United States. Composite characters and narratives represented the stories of the fifteen study contributors. Findings indicated Ph.D. students experience socialization differently based on location and program. Ph.D. students’ experiences highlighted the hegemony within doctoral education. Doctoral students negotiated complex identities, noting the importance of these in relation to their doctoral experiences. The policy implications for this study included a revision of the socialization process, an introduction of a new form of capital, and policy changes to the hegemony within doctoral education.


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