doctoral students, introductory course, socialization, qualitative, imposter syndrome


This qualitative case study examined Ph.D. students’ perceptions of the impact of a full semester introductory course at a Tier-1 research institution. Results from multiple data sources including open-coded interviews and reflective entries yielded three overarching perceptions of the impact of the introductory class by its first-year students: (1) the establishment of community; (2) contributions to students’ knowledge base through cultivation of academic tools within a Ph.D. program, both departmentally and programmatically; and (3) addressing and relieving “imposter syndrome.” Results indicated participants benefited from a semester-long introductory course as it contributed to community building and socialization, acquisition of needed skills and dispositions of the field, and assisted in managing imposter syndrome. Additionally, participants offered suggestions regarding course improvement. The study contributes to the body of post-secondary literature, as little work has been conducted on semester-long introductory courses at the doctoral level.