Graduate student survey indicates satisfaction with graduate experience

This winter, third-year Ph.D. students completed a survey on student satisfaction. “This survey provided us with valuable data, guiding us toward areas of improvement and affirming the effectiveness of our ongoing efforts in providing top-tier doctoral education,” said C. André Christie-Mizell, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “We want to continue to build on this momentum as we roll out additional resources for students as part of the Enhanced Funding and Support Model for Doctoral Education.” 

The data indicated students feel satisfied with their educational experience and are generally satisfied with all aspects of their graduate programs.  

  • More than 80% are satisfied with being a doctoral student and reported their program is meeting or exceeding their expectations.  
  • Most respondents (80%) would select the same field of study and Vanderbilt again. 
  • About 75% are very or somewhat satisfied with the relationship between faculty and doctoral students and the quality of doctoral-level teaching by faculty.  

Respondents feel prepared to be successful in their academic journey as a graduate student. 

  • More than 90% indicated clear understanding of the formal research expectations/requirements to complete their program.  
  • 89% of respondents reported presenting research at professional/academic conferences.  
  • The majority of students indicated feeling prepared to conduct research, mentor, advise, teach and serve.  
  • 89% believe their adviser supports them in any career path.  

Respondents indicated they feel a strong sense of belonging at Vanderbilt. 

  • 90% indicated having fulfilling relationships at Vanderbilt.  
  • More than 80% reported feeling safe, accepted by others and cared about by someone in the Vanderbilt community.   

International graduate student respondents indicated satisfaction with their graduate experience.  

  • 81% of international student respondents reported feeling a sense of belonging at Vanderbilt. 
  • 85% reported feeling accepted by others. 
  • 91% reported a sense of safety. 

Third-year Ph.D. students at Vanderbilt were invited to complete this survey between Dec. 15 and Jan. 9 administered by Data and Strategic Analytics on behalf of the Graduate School. The purpose of the survey was to better understand the Ph.D. student experience and further shape what services the Graduate School provides to meet students’ academic needs. Almost 200 Ph.D. students completed the survey, a response rate of nearly 60%. The Vanderbilt survey had favorable results compared to student satisfaction data at peer institutions.   

“We value every opportunity to hear feedback from current students in order to better support their academic training,” noted Terrah Akard, associate dean for academic affairs in the Graduate School. “We look forward to continuing to collect data annually in order to assess the ongoing impact of initiatives to support graduate student belonging, academic preparation and scholarly excellence.”