A Qualitative Study of Variables Contributing to the Decision for Women of Color to Enter Graduate Programs in Psychology

Date of Award


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Fernand Lubuguin, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Carmen Braun Williams, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Patricia Roe, Ph.D.


Psychology, Minority, Women of Color


The awareness of the need to increase the numbers of minority psychology/counseling professionals has heightened over recent years. The American Psychological Association (APA, 2006) has stated its commitment to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the field, but has inadequately addressed strategies to do so. This qualitative study examined both personal and environmental variables which played a key role in the decision by four women of color to apply to psychology graduate programs. The literature indicates that minority undergraduates must contend with a number of race-based barriers which impede a smooth transition to graduate school, and which may account for the disparity between the number of minorities who aspire to a graduate education and those who succeed in achieving one. Using qualitative methodology, the interview data from the four minority women were categorized according to the dominant themes. The findings indicated that the most salient variables considered by these subjects were the role of mentors and the availability of financial resources. The exploration of variables, both inhibitive and supportive, which weighed in their decision to apply may provide information critical to graduate institutions looking to improve their minority recruitment and retention efforts.


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