Are Graduate Students Getting the Mentorship They Need?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

In April, the Associated Students of the Graduate Division (ASGD) developed and administered a survey to get at this question. As part of an ongoing effort to understand and address issues with mentorship, the survey was designed to assess areas where mentorship can be improved and included questions about student demographic, career trajectory, and experience at UCSF.

About 46% (356 out of 777) of the graduate population responded to the survey, and data represent students in social and basic science programs across all years. This response rate indicates widespread interest in the topic of mentorship across the graduate student body.

There were disproportionately more female and white PhD students responding. The survey achieved at least a 50% response rate from students in their first through fourth year, while fewer students who were in their fifth year or later responded.

In response to the question “Are you satisfied with your relationship with your mentor?” 71% of students indicate satisfaction (combining responses of “extremely satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied”) while 21% indicate dissatisfaction. Stratifying responses by year shows a trend of increasing dissatisfaction as time spent in a graduate program increases. While 83% of second years report satisfaction and 10% report dissatisfaction, by the sixth year 33% report satisfaction and 50% report dissatisfaction.

Although most students are satisfied with their relationship with their mentor, 43% of survey respondents have considered leaving their graduate program, which may indicate that other factors unrelated to their mentors also play a role.

To understand students’ interests, we asked whether they were considering a career in academia, outside academia, or either. We found that 77% of students are considering a career outside academia, while 23% are considering only careers in academia.

As ASGD continues to analyze the data from the survey, which contains data from 60 other questions, we hope to identify specific opportunities for improvement of student satisfaction with mentorship. For example, we plan to explore how satisfaction correlates with interest in academic careers and other demographics.

We will release a detailed analysis of our findings in the fall and will follow up this report with an event where we can have a community conversation about the results.

Figures supporting these reported statistics are available here.