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There has been a growing concern over the media and from the academic faculties on the alarming trend of students taking unnecessarily longer time pursuing their doctorate degrees. A number of disciplines have shown that as low as 50 percent completion rate has been evidenced in some areas of study, with a steady rise in time being taken to obtain the degrees i.e.by as much as two years. (Dr. Kenneth Redd: Graduate School's newsletter) (Creswell, 1998).
Dr. Kenneth Redd emphasizes that one of the reasons he wrote the paper is because there has been there has lots of debates on how appropriate the doctoral degree programs, can be measured. According to the article, time-to-degree completion rates have become a means of assessing the quality of doctoral degree programs, and that this has impelled a closer inspection of both the enrollment and reports on completion data, along with the environment within which these analyses are being evaluated (Harris & Sutton, 1986).
However, in spite of the debates for the enforcement of positive reforms in addressing the time to degree completion rate imbalance, other new challenges have been realized. Fundamental demographic shifts in the doctorial degree programs have been unfolding since 1995, with greater impact on the under-represented groups, the caliber of women, African Americans, and Hispanics. This is a historical phenomenon that has presented newly potential challenges to the metrics that have been in use for gauging doctoral degree program performance.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there was a 12 percent rise in students enrolling for doctoral degree programs, that is, between 1995 to 1996 and 2003 to 2004 academic years. The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) conducted between 1996 and 2004also reflected that white students enrolling for the doctorate programs fell from (76 to 7 1) %, with a mere 1 % growth rate. Though, the results of three major groups that were considered in the survey indicated a general increase in the rate of enrollment. These were the International students, who recorded an increase from (10 to 20) %( Creswell, 1998).The Under-represented minorities (Black, Hispanic, Native American) increased to 65 %,.and the number of women hit 50 percent doctoral enrollment. Redd`s hypothesis then analyzed a number of factors influenced or affected the measurement of the recent students enrolment rates into the doctorate programs that had been accompanied by new demographic changes.
According to the National Opinion Research Center's (NORC) Survey of Earned Doctorate programs, Dr. Kenneth Redd noted that 27 % of Latino graduate students carry a cumulative debt of $30,000 or more, compared to 19 % indicated by the Whites students tat accomplished their doctorate programs. Generally, more students than in the past were depending on loans to pursue the doctoral degree programs, and that this trend affected more the Latinos students because the borrowed pretty more before completing their doctorates programs. Dr. Kenneth writes (Harris & Sutton, 1986).
In a preceding presentation at the annual NAGS symposium, minority graduate students particularly at the doctoral level were less expected to obtain help and therefore they were prone to borrow more as compared to White and Asian-American counterpart students pursuing the same programs.
While more of the underrepresented minorities such as the Hispanics were going ahead in obtaining doctorate programs, they are taking on higher debt, which were likely to pile pressure on them later on in their lives. However, this did not seem to be interfering with the rate of dropout cases. Redd expounded further (Creswell, 1998).