Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Margaret W. Sallee

Committee Members

Norma T. Mertz, J. Camille Hall, Rob Hardin


Successful graduate student socialization has been characterized as the acceptance and adoption of disciplinary values and beliefs into the students’ identity (Bragg, 1976; Weidman, Twale, & Stein, 2001). Some scholars assert that assimilating the values and beliefs of the discipline may be difficult for Blacks students as their cultural beliefs and values may be incongruent (Antony, 2002; Tierney & Rhoads, 1994). Surprisingly, there appears to be no empirical studies exploring this assertion for Black Ph.D. students. The purpose of this study was to determine if cultural beliefs and values influence the socialization experiences of Black Ph.D. students. Specifically, using racial identity as a theoretical framework, hierarchical regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between racial identity and socialization (as measured by faculty-student interactions, peer-peer interactions, and student’s perceptions of faculty) of Black Ph.D. students at predominantly White institutions (PWIs).

Data were collected from 389 current Ph.D. students and recent completers. Racial identity was assessed using the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998). After controlling for key demographic variables, results indicated racial identity influenced some aspects of socialization. Specifically, public regard was positively related to faculty-student interaction as well as students’ perception of faculty. Racial centrality and ascribing to a humanist ideology were also positively related to students’ perception of faculty. Finally, ascribing to a nationalist ideology was inversely related to peer-peer interactions.

The findings indicate that cultural beliefs and values do influence the socialization experience. Moreover, the results reveal a potential rationale for the possible differences in socialization among Black Ph.D. students. Specifically, differences in racial identity attitudes and beliefs influence the behavior of students and thus their socialization experience. Overall, the findings suggest that faculty and students in Ph.D. programs at PWI institutions might develop socialization practices that take into consideration cultural differences. Specific recommendations include: forming a mentoring/advising partnership with student to determine the most relevant plan for socialization into the student’s desired roles and using pedagogies and practices such as collaborative learning and wise schooling that are culturally relevant and supportive.

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