Minority Student Experiences in Engineering Graduate Programs: Socialization and Impact on Career Trajectories

Catherine T. Amelink, Mayra S. Artiles

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper examines the academic and social interactions during graduate engineering program enrollment among racially underrepresented doctoral and master's students and how those interactions shape their career goals. Using socialization theory, this study explored daily interactions of students with faculty and peers, overall perceptions of fit, knowledge about the graduate school process, and opportunities for mentoring provided in the institution as well as through outside engagement during industry internships. The findings presented in this paper build upon an earlier study conducted at one university to a national research sample. Quantitative and qualitative data provide evidence that underscores the importance of having a supportive and accessible faculty advisor, the need for mentoring programs and peer groups that students from traditionally minoritized in engineering can identify with, and the role that regular feedback and clear expectations can provide in shaping the academic and social interactions of underrepresented engineering graduate students. This national study is comprised of 109 underrepresented domestic engineering graduate students who identified themselves as African American, Black, Hispanic, or Native American. Results show that in addition to the academic and social interactions in an academic setting, internship opportunities and related interactions in industry-based settings can play an important role in shaping the career trajectories of minoritized graduate students enrolled in engineering programs. The findings from this study can better inform the design of diverse, inclusive, and supportive graduate communities that encourage long-term careers in engineering fields in industry and academia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021


  • Career pathways
  • Internships
  • Underrepresented graduate students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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