supporting research and practice focused on the academic and psychosocial experiences of historically marginalized doctoral students

Five Resources Related to Black Motherhood and the Doctoral Experience

In recognition of Mother’s Day 2017, here are five (5) sources to consider about the pursuit of the doctorate and motherhood.  These articles span a wide array of topics and address various aspects of the doctoral student journey and beyond.  They focus on: recognition of mothers who value education in their families; the challenges associated with motherhood while enrolled in academic study; finding sources to support degree attainment; academic networks that support mothers and their educational experiences, and the experience of motherhood as faculty.   We encourage you to share this information with anyone contemplating motherhood and the doctoral process.   Also, consider the “Women: Growing Fields” data by the Survey of Earned Doctorates (2015) for degree completion trends by discipline; highlighting potential for research and practice opportunities that emphasize the physical sciences and engineering fields.

1. Happy Mother’s Day: A Tribute to Black Moms Who Use Education as Their North Star

2. The Importance of a Sister Circle for Black Women Pursuing the PhD #SADocsofColor

3. On the Burdens Carried by Single Black Mothers Enrolled in Ph.D. Programs

4. 10 Scholarships for Women Returning to College

5. Motherhood After Tenure:  Listening to Black “Mama, PhDs”

Women:  Growing Fields (Survey of Earned Doctorates, 2015):

“The fastest growing subfields of doctoral study for women over the past decade have been within the physical sciences (led by computer and information sciences) and engineering (led by materials science engineering).”  (Survey of Earned Doctorates, 2015).



Celebrating Black Images of Commencement

There was a time in the United States when Black/African Americans/Africans did not attend colleges and universities nor participate commencement ceremonies.  This week’s blog post celebrates eight (8) photos of commencement focused on Black/African American/African images.  They are a source of great inspiration for graduates all over our country and particularly for historically marginalized students whose experience may often lack the presence of these images.

  1.  Maya Angelou


2. Oprah Winfrey

2013 Harvard University Commencement

3.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


4. Ruth Simmons


5. Michelle Obama


6. Barack Obama


7.  Laverne Cox


8. Denzel Washington






#BlackDocsChat: Why Conducting Research on the Historically Marginalized Doctoral Experience is Important

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, #BlackDoctoratesMatter held a Twitter Conversation with for its community to discuss the importance of conducting research on historically marginalized doctoral students.  Two scholars on the topic joined the conversation to share their research perspectives.  Dr. Marco Barker, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Westminster College whose research primarily addresses the cross-race advising of Black doctoral students. And, Dr. Carmen McCallum’s work focuses on the prior socialization experiences of African American doctoral students and the decision-making process associated with transitions into doctoral study.  These scholars shared both theoretical and practical insights about how research on the Black/African American doctoral experience supports the role and value of racial and cultural contributions in our educational and community.  In this week’s blog post we share questions and responses that underscore the relevance of this work.  In the future we look forward to hosting additional Twitter Chats, and live social media discussions on these issues.

Why is research about the Black Doctoral Experience important?  

What are the top three priorities in your research?

 What can the Black community learn/gain from research on the Black doctoral experience?

What are 3 important “must-have” scholarly references for research on the Black Doctoral Experience?


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Written by:  Dr. Pamela Felder, Ph.D., Founder of #BlackDoctoratesMatter

@pamelafelder @BlackDocsMatter, #BlackDocsChat

Black/African American Music Leaders with Honorary Doctorates

This week’s blog post highlights Black/African American music leaders who have received honorary doctorate degrees for professional achievements and service to their disciplines.  Our list includes videos of ceremonies where they received their degrees and shared remarks.  For more information about celebrities who received honorary doctoral degrees, check out this list.

Aretha Franklin

Patti La Belle

B.B. King

Wynton Marsalis

Kanye West

Stevie Wonder



Black Church Leadership and the Doctorate

In pulpits of Black churches all over the United States Black preachers celebrated the Easter tradition this past weekend.  Here is a list of six Black preachers with doctorates who also espouse and practice ideologies of social justice advocacy in support of historically marginalized groups.  Included in this post are links to preachers’ websites and videos of selected sermons. Also, see the For Harriet and TheConversation  references for additional information on Black church leadership.   Please be advised the list below is not exhaustive as there are numerous church leaders doing excellent work in our community. Future blog posts will highlight additional church leaders/initiatives serving underrepresented populations that promote academic success.

1.   Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright


2.  Dr. Renita Weems


3.  Dr. Otis Moss, III


4.  Dr. Raphael Warnock 


5.  Dr. Howard-John Wesley


6.  Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman



Written by:  Pamela Petrease Felder, Ph.D., Founder of #BlackDoctoratesMatter

Five Resources for Understanding Intersectionality and Historically Marginalized Students

Research and practice centered on the role and value of intersectionality in the lives of historically marginalized doctoral students are critical to creating, building, and sustaining programmatic efforts.  These efforts, with outcomes to improve and increase academic success and doctoral degree completion, serve to broaden our understanding regarding the depth of scope racial and cultural experiences.  The historically marginalized experiences of students are vast and complex and understanding them requires approaches that consider the richness and depth of multiple racial/cultural influences and identities.  Five resources are presented here to support and promote the intersectionality research.  These resources include websites for publications addressing perspectives on: gender, academic discipline, political philosophy, socio-economic status, and immigrant status.  Readers are encouraged to review this information (and other sources on intersectionality not posted here) to get a sense of why this work is important for supporting the lives of marginalized students.


1. Intersectionality and Black Men:


2. Intersectionality and Politics: 

International Socialist Review:  http://isreview.org/about

3. Intersectional Identities and Educational Leadership of Black Women:


4. Intersectionality and Educational Background/Socio-Economic Status:

Navigating the pipeline: How socio-cultural influences impact first-generation doctoral students.  Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Vol 5(2), Jun 2012, 112-121.


5. Intersectionality and Understanding the Black Immigrant Student Experience: 

“Oh, of Course I’m Going to Go to College”: Understanding how habitus shapes the college choice process of Black immigrant students. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education Education 2012, Vol. 5, No. 2, 96–111.





The McNair Program and its Positive Influence on Success for Underrepresented Doctoral Students

Research indicates multiple levels of support are needed to facilitate doctoral degree attainment for historically marginalized students.  National, state, local, and organizational efforts are necessary to stem attrition and build communities that embrace academic achievement for students of color.  A long-standing national effort supporting students of color is the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement program.  Named after the second African American to fly in space, McNair, with a PhD in laser physics, orbited the earth 122 times in a space shuttle mission and is the model for a program emphasizing doctoral degree completion for first-generation, low-income students.  With outcomes for exposure to graduate level academic activities to increase attainment of the PHD, McNair is essential to increasing doctoral degree production in the United States.

Beyond a student’s academic capacity, McNair values the process of making meaning of a one’s potential to be a well-rounded scholar.  To support students from underrepresented backgrounds, members of the McNair community oftentimes see beyond mainstream aspects of the doctoral experience.  For instance, creating spaces to support racially and culturally-based research interests that are meaningful to a student’s identity and research interests involves finding opportunities in institutional spaces where racially and culturally relevant ideas are not be readily apparent.

McNair Scholars benefit from a vast network of researchers, practitioners, and scholars who provide both academic and psycho-social support.  This is helpful since many students bring valuable levels of emotional intelligence with them based on their experiences.  However, managing it may require different skill sets; and drawing on a diverse network mentors is essential to supporting differences among a variety of disciplinary experiences.  In addition to providing these layers of support, McNair creates spaces that illustrate successful transitions from doctoral study into careers emphasizing specific disciplinary interests.  Oftentimes historically marginalized students don’t benefit from the protection afforded by supportive legacies of inclusion where thriving intellectually and culturally is a norm.  Thus, engaging with mentors who have experience in their careers and disciplines, serves to build cultural wealth and sustain programmatic activities to support scholarly engagement within their intellectual communities.

The contribution McNair makes to supporting doctoral degree completion fori historically marginalized students is invaluable.  It represents a critical layer of addressing a multi-faceted system of exclusion for underrepresented populations regarding their participation in higher education.  Furthermore, McNair represents the promise of potential in strengthening our nation by way doctoral degree completion; bringing to bear one of Dr. McNair’s well known quotes: “Whether or not you reach your goal in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them.  You’re eagles!  Stretch your wings and fly to the sky.” Preparation, motivation, and determination are driving forces of the program facilitating academic success, degree completion and transition into the academic profession and other careers.

More information about Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Programs throughout the United States can be found here:  https://mcnairscholars.com/regional-and-state-associations-2/


Ronald McNair