Are High-Quality PhD Programs at Universities Associated with More Undergraduate Students Pursuing PhD Study?

Todd R. Jones, Ronald G. Ehrenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 22372
Issued in June 2016, Revised in April 2018
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education

This paper investigates which attributes of a Carnegie PhD-level institution predict the share of its undergraduate BA recipients that will earn a PhD. Four broad PhD fields are studied: humanities, physical sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences. We use restricted-access, individual-level Survey of Earned Doctorates data to determine both where and when PhD recipients received their BA, and truncation-correction methodology to account for PhD receipt after the data end. Across fields, we find that PhD production is positively related to the number of highly-ranked PhD programs an institution has, suggesting such departments may play a dual role in both producing PhDs as well as encouraging undergraduates to earn PhDs themselves. We also find that PhD production is negatively related to the total number of students and the share of total BAs that are received in the field, and is positively related to student test scores.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22372

Published: Todd R. Jones & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2019. "Are high-quality PhD programs at universities associated with more undergraduate students pursuing PhD study?," Education Economics, vol 27(5), pages 451-471. citation courtesy of

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