Perspectives of women educational professionals on their part-time doctoral studies

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Joan Burstyn


women educators, Higher education, Curricula, Adult education, Continuing education, Womens studies

Subject Categories

Teacher Education and Professional Development


This study explored experiences of 25 women, part-time doctoral students between September 1994 and September 1995 in the School of Education at a large, private, northeastern research university. The participants were employed in various educational institutions as teachers, college professors, and public school and college administrators. The purpose of the study was to obtain perspectives of women educational professionals on their part-time doctoral studies and to draw a detailed profile of these students.

The study employed qualitative methodology, using repeated, in-depth, unstructured interviews to reveal dominant patterns and themes. The participants were extraordinary, distinctive, and complex individuals, not a monolithic identity. The study investigated their perceived meaning of the doctorate and their diverse reasons for defining themselves as part time. The participants' definitions of part-time status differed from the institutional definition as well as among themselves. Their academic and career paths were investigated, including the role of life conditions (such as class, gender, and race) in forming those paths.

The study also focused on the process of obtaining the degree, specifically the ways these women accommodated part-time study into professionally and personally complex lives, the ways they managed multiple roles and coped with their complex lives, and the sources and forms of support women perceived during their part-time doctoral studies. Additionally, this study revealed women's perceptions of the questionable features of the doctorate and of the part-time doctoral study in particular, as well as of the valuable aspects of pursuing a doctorate part time.


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