Student Success Factors in Graduate Psychology Professional Programs

Noelle Newhouse


Research examining factors contributing to online students’ success typically focuses on a single point in time or completion of a single course, as well as individual difference variables, such as learning style or motivation, that may predispose a student to succeed. However, research concerning longer term online student outcomes, such as graduation rates or how events occurring during matriculation may impact students’ progress, is lacking. Moreover, little is known about the factors that contribute to graduate psychology students’ successful completion of their online degree programs. This exploratory archival study uniquely focuses on data gathered from admissions files and the student information system to identify and examine possible factors contributing to students’ final program grade point average (GPA) and graduation rates in two distinct, fully online masters of psychology programs. Findings derived from chi-square tests and regression and logistic regression analyses indicate that placement on academic probation at any time during enrollment is associated with both lower final program GPA and a decreased probability of graduation. Prior graduate school experience and taking a leave of absence (LOA) were also associated with lower probability of graduation, whereas failing any course during matriculation was associated with a lower final program GPA. Implications include identifying students who fail any course, take an LOA, and/or are placed on academic probation as “at risk,” and proactively connecting with them to provide tailored advisement and resources to support their continued matriculation.


Student success; student retention; graduate students; degree completion

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