Date of Award

6-30-2016

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Kathy Evans

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of doctoral study on the relationship satisfaction and commitment level of both doctoral students and partners of doctoral students. The researcher examined length of relationship, gender, financial status, and relationship status to determine if each variable is a predictor of relationship satisfaction and commitment level for both doctoral students and partners of doctoral students.

The majority of literature regarding the impact of doctoral study on relationship satisfaction has focused exclusively on the perspective of married doctoral students. From a systems perspective, it is impossible to understand a system by solely examining one part of it. Few studies have received insight from partners of doctoral students. Also, despite the trend of individuals waiting longer to get married, unmarried doctoral students and their relationship partners have not received much exploration in past studies. The lack of literature on the perceptions of unmarried doctoral student relationships and partners of doctoral students provides sufficient validation for this current study.

The present researcher utilized a quantitative research methods approach to conduct this present study. The participants of this present study were doctoral students and partners of doctoral students from American Psychological Association (APA) accredited psychology, Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) accredited marriage and family therapy, and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited

counseling doctoral programs. The Couples Satisfaction Index and the Commitment Level subscale of the Investment Model Scale were used to measure the relationship satisfaction and commitment levels of both the doctoral students and their partners. Data was collected and analyzed from 89 couples. Hierarchical Multiple Regressions, Paired- Samples T-Tests, and a Mixed Between-Within Subjects MANOVAs were used to analyze the researcher’s data.

Length of relationship, financial status, gender, and relationship status were not found to be predictors of relationship satisfaction or commitment level for doctoral students or partners of doctoral students. Also, no significant differences were found between doctoral students and their partners based on financial status, length of relationship, or relationship status. Both doctoral students and partners of doctoral students were found to have high levels of relationship satisfaction and commitment.

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