System Factors Affecting Underrepresented Minorities in Doctoral Programs in Engineering: A Literature Review

Neirouz Bouhrira, Juan M. Cruz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


Several studies have shown that underrepresented minorities (URM) (African Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latinos) are more likely to drop out of engineering doctorate programs before graduation compared to international and majority students. In addition, transitioning into the doctoral programs without having a good understanding of what it entails can make the PhD experience difficult. To address this issue, a team of researchers from four US universities developed a project called 'the Rising Doctoral Institute (RDI)'. One of the research goals of this project is to better understand how factors in the academic system interact dynamically to influence (i.e., support or hinder) incoming URM students' access, success, persistence, and retention in engineering doctoral programs. To accomplish this goal, we will use a comprehensive analysis approach known as System Dynamic Model (SDM). This work-In-Progress article represents the starting point to develop this model and its overall goal is to conduct a systematic literature review to identify the factors in the academic system that impact URM students' experience in doctoral engineering programs. We followed a process suggested by Okoli and Schabram [1] which consists of four major steps. The first step is presenting the purpose of the literature review, protocol, and training. The second step consists of selecting the literature and practical screen. The next step is the quality appraisal and data extraction. Finally, the analysis of findings and writing the review. By identifying the factors and the relation between them, we could help ensure a more diverse and equitable STEM education. Although some external factors can affect students' access, success, persistence and retention in engineering PhD programs, this study is limited to exploring the factors and interactions within the academic system that can potentially impact the successful experience of underrepresented minorities in PhD programs in engineering such as Advisor-Advisee Relationship, Student's Experience, Academic Support and Faculty-Students Interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781665438513
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021 - Lincoln, United States
Duration: Oct 13 2021Oct 16 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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