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Michigan Doctoral Experience Study (MDES)

Rackham is implementing the MDES to study the doctoral student experience over the entire trajectory of graduate study and into early career development. The study will inform Rackham programming and policies to better meet student needs, inform program review, and contribute to the scholarship on doctoral student success.

Starting in Fall 2017, we will survey the entire incoming doctoral cohort to learn about their transition into doctoral study. We are interested in the criteria students use to select doctoral programs and what motivates students to pursue doctoral study, as well as their expectations, career goals, and early experiences in their doctoral program. The study is expected to be longitudinal, surveying students each fall and expanding to include a new entering cohort each year.

Information for Participants

When is the survey period?

The 2017 survey period will open on September 18 and close on October 2.

Who is invited to participate in the survey?

All students who have begun a Rackham Ph.D. program in either the Summer/Spring or Fall 2017 term will receive an invitation to participate.

Will I receive an incentive for participating?

Only those invited respondents who complete the survey will receive a $15 Mastercard gift card. The gift card will be mailed within 10-15 business days of completing the survey.

Are answers to the survey confidential?

Yes, all survey data will be held confidential by the staff in the Rackham Graduate School Institutional Research Office. Only the research team will be able to access any identifying information. Individual student data will not be accessed or shared with graduate departments, programs, or Deans at Rackham. When data are analyzed and reported, survey responses will be aggregated across respondents.

Who should I contact with questions about the MDES?

Please contact John Gonzalez, Director of the Rackham Institutional Research Office, at (734) 764-4400 or

Last updated: September 11, 2017 - 2:57pm