Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



This study explores African American undergraduate students’ perceptions of factors influencing their decision to attend doctoral programs in psychology. There is a scarcity of literature examining perceptions held by specific minority groups in regard to influential factors used to make a significant step toward their career development. Eight undergraduate students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology were interviewed. A semi-structured interview and two paper-pencil measures were used. Interviews were analyzed utilizing the consensual qualitative research (CQR) method. The following themes emerged: reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree, navigating the application process, factors influencing interest in psychology, perception of a program’s commitment to diversity, importance of ethnic minority representation in a program, financial concerns, family view of psychology, most important factor for attendance, and prior school experiences outside of psychology. The study found that issues related to African American representation and research, as well as the presence of financial aid, are highly relevant in students’ evaluation of which doctoral programs they prefer to attend. This information will pave the way for further studies focusing on how to increase the number of African American students in doctoral programs around the country.