First Advisor

Peter Collier

Date of Publication

Summer 7-23-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (U.S.), Graduate students -- United States -- Attitudes, First-generation college students -- United States, Student adjustment, Habitus (Sociology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 134 pages)


The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program is a U.S. Department of Education TRIO Program, funded at 152 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico. In 2013, total funding reached over $35 million--of which, Portland State University received approximately $211,000 (US Department of Education, 2013). The program's goal is to introduce first-generation, low-income, under-represented group college students to effective strategies for succeeding in doctoral programs so they may become professors and create a more supportive environment for future non-traditional students. One way to explore program effectiveness beyond completion of the McNair Program is to ask the McNair Scholars themselves about program impact. This comparative interview study explores McNair graduates' understandings of issues they face in adjusting to graduate school and how participation in the McNair Program prepared them to address these issues. Typically, McNair program evaluations emphasize the collection and analysis of quantitative data - e.g. graduate school enrollment and degree attainment. However, little qualitative research has been conducted on graduate's perceptions of the impact of program participation on their graduate school experiences. This study, which uses Bourdieu's Theory of Social Reproduction, along with the sociology-based ideas of role-as-resource, role mastery, and expertise development, explores students' perceptions of the McNair Program's effectiveness in regards to helping them understand the "graduate student" role and use that role to succeed in graduate school and beyond.


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