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Demographic characteristics of participants in graduate college professional and sociocultural development programming

Laura N. Schram (Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)
Emma M. Flores-Scott (Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)
Paula Clasing-Manquian (Faculty of Education, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile and Millenium Nucleus Student Experience of Higher Education in Chile: Expectations and Realities, Santiago, Chile)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Article publication date: 6 January 2023

Issue publication date: 7 April 2023




The USA’s higher education leaders and professional organizations have called for increased professional development programming at graduate colleges to better prepare US graduate students for their future careers. This study aims to investigate the demographic characteristics of graduate students participating in co-curricular professional development (PD) and sociocultural development (SD) programming at a graduate college at a large, selective and research-intensive public university in the Midwestern USA.


Using institutional data from six semesters, the authors examined the characteristics of students that attended the graduate college’s programs at one university. The authors analyzed which students were most likely to attend PD and SD programs using multinomial logistic regression models.


Female students, students from US historically marginalized racial groups, and US Pell Grant recipients (low-income students) were found to have a higher likelihood of attending both PD and SD programs at the centralized graduate college.

Practical implications

The findings will be of interest to graduate deans and educators who support graduate students. Further evaluative research on the usefulness of such programs at other institutions would help graduate colleges better understand the role they play in meeting graduate students’ needs.


The findings contribute to the understanding of the important role of the US graduate college in the development of graduate students. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, it is the first study to evaluate the backgrounds of graduate students who pursue co-curricular PD and SD opportunities.



We acknowledge the critical contributions of Kristen Jensen and Maureen Leonard, who carefully tracked and managed student participation data as Event Planners at the graduate college. In addition, the support of John Gonzalez and the Rackham Institutional Research team was critical to analyzing these data. We also want to thank several colleagues for their critical feedback on this paper, including Allyson Flaster, Chris Golde, John Gonzalez, Matt Nelson, Maresi Nerad, and Shoba Subramanian. Finally, we are grateful to Michael J. Solomon, Dean and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs–Graduate Studies, for his continued support.


N. Schram, L., Flores-Scott, E.M. and Clasing-Manquian, P. (2023), "Demographic characteristics of participants in graduate college professional and sociocultural development programming", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 201-218.



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