Racial Identity, Student-Professor Interactions, and Social Support: Predictors of Graduate Experiences for Black Women in Graduate Programs

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Beverly J. Vandiver, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Samuel T. Beasley, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Regena Fails Nelson, Ph.D.


Black women, graduate experiences, graduate school, racial identity, social support, student-professor interactions


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between racial identity, student-professor interactions, and social support for Black women in U.S. graduate programs. This focus is timely as more Black women are enrolling in graduate studies while the research on the graduate school experience for Black women is limited. The current research suggests that Black women still perceive the climate of graduate school as chilly and unwelcoming (Haynes et al., 2021; Howard-Baptiste, 2014; Shavers & Moore, 2014) and that Black women continue to have negative experiences with advising (e.g., Joseph, 2012; McClure, 2019), mentoring (Curry, 2011; Patton, 2009), and social interactions with peers and faculty (Haynes et al., 2020; Robinson, 2013; Williams, 2021). The primary variables under investigation in this study were racial identity, social support, and student-professor interactions. Data were obtained from 156 Black women U.S. graduate students via an online research panel.

The first hypothesis was that a linear composite was expected to emerge where the racial identity attitudes of Multiculturalist, Afrocentric, and Anti-White would be positively related to the social support of Family Support and Significant Other Support, while the Pre-Encounter racial identity attitudes of Assimilation, Miseducation, and Self-Hatred would be positively related to the social support of Friend Support and inversely related to Family and Significant Other Support. A canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was conducted on the relationship between racial identity and social support. One function emerged and Hypothesis 1 was partially supported. For Black women graduates students in this study non-internalized racial attitudes (Assimilation, Miseducation, Anti-White) appeared to be predictive of friend support, whereas internalized attitudes (Afrocentric & Miseducation) were predictive of significant other support and family support. Hypothesis 2 was that a linear composite would emerge where the racial identity attitudes of Assimilation, Miseducation, Afrocentric, and Multiculturalist would be positively related to the student-professor interactions of (a) Respectful Interactions, (b) Approachability, (c) Accessibility, (d) Career Guidance, (e) Caring Attitudes, (f) Connectedness, and (g) Off-Campus Interactions, and inversely related to (h) Negative Experiences. Also, the racial identity attitudes of Anti-White and Self-Hatred were expected to be positively related to student-professor interaction of Negative Experiences, and inversely related to Respectful Interactions, Caring Attitudes, and Connectedness. CCA revealed two functions for interpretation, but the findings did not fully support Hypothesis 2. For Function 1, non-internalized racial identity attitudes (Self-Hatred, Assimilation, Miseducation & Anti-White) and the internalized attitude of Afrocentric were predictive of Negative Experiences, Off-Campus Interactions, and Connectedness. On the other hand, the internalized attitude of Multiculturalist predicted positive interactions such as Respectful Interaction, Approachability, Accessibility, Caring Attitudes, and Career Guidance. For Function 2, Self-hatred predicted Negative Experiences, and the other CRIS subscales (Assimilation, Miseducation, Afrocentric & Multiculturalist) predicted positive student-professor interactions. Implications for practice and future research regarding Black women graduate students, graduate faculty, training programs and graduate institutions are provided.

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Dissertation-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until


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