Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the role of race in cross-race advising relationships between White faculty advisors and their Black doctoral student protégés. I examined the racial context of doctoral education experiences and relationships between doctoral students and faculty. Blacks with doctoral degrees comprise only 0.3% of those 18 years and older and only 3.5% of those with doctoral degrees (U.S. Census, 2000). Although there has been an increase in the number of Blacks enrolling in doctoral programs (Cook & Cordova, 2006), Nettles and Millett (2006) found that Blacks and Latin Americans have higher attrition rates compared to Asian American, international, and White doctoral students. The sample included Black doctoral students at one research extensive (McCormick, 2001) predominantly White institution (PWI) in the South and their White faculty advisors. The final sample resulted in seven White faculty members and seven Black doctoral students for a total of 14 matched participants or seven cross-race, matched pairs. Data were collected using an open-ended protocol and interviews lasted 60 to 90 minutes each. Participants were also allowed to email other thoughts and follow-up questions were sent to some participants for clarification. Related to race, both faculty and students employed applying racial caution or their reluctance to discuss racial and other polarized issues (e.g., politics). However, students’ dissertation topics on race allowed for open discussions on race between faculty and student. Another theme, critical lived experiences, emerged as the concept that those faculty members who were most reflective or whose student felt was highly, culturally competent had some previous experience where they were faced with racial realizations or a critical event or discussion related to race. One other significant finding was racial currency. While many of the students spoke to their race as a liability (e.g., perspectives of being undervalued), faculty saw the student’s race as both leverage (i.e., being sought after in the job market) and liability (i.e., being second-guessed after a job hire). While students reported that race was not a factor in advisor preference, same-race connections during the doctoral process were critical to their success.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mitchell, Roland



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