Commuting female doctoral students: A qualitative inquiry into the commuting experience



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With the increase in fully online degree offerings, it would seem that the lack of a physical college or university campus would be irrelevant in the pursuit of a doctoral degree. However, only one quarter of postbaccalaureate students choose to enroll in exclusively distance programs. Prospective students consider several criteria when evaluating graduate programs; location of the institution is but one criterion. The objective of this study was to examine the experiences of female doctoral students who commuted long distances between their home and university. The research questions that guided the study asked what factors influenced the decision of female doctoral students to commute, what challenges were created by this decision, and what types of support institutions of higher education can provide to this population of students. Following a social constructivist theoretical perspective, this qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to conduct semi-structured interviews of six participants. Data analysis of the interview transcripts found four major themes: college choice; student support; impact on family and professional systems; and commuting attributes.



Commuting students, Female doctoral students, College choice, Graduate students