Knowledge junkies or careerbuilders? A mixed-methods approach to exploring the determinants of students' intention to earn a PhD

Elisabeth F. Mueller, Miriam Flickinger, Verena Dorner

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


What are the determinants of students' interest in earning a PhD? In this study, we use a mixed-methods approach to pursue this question. Based on qualitative interview data, we develop a model in which academic motivation and academic achievement interact with contextual factors such as working conditions to influence career intentions. We then test this model using a sample of 229 students currently enrolled in master-level courses of study at a German university. Our results speak to the role of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivations in the context of PhD intentions. In contrast to our expectations, results suggest that while intrinsic life aspirations and the intellectual challenge of gaining a PhD play a significant role for students' intention to pursue a PhD, extrinsic life aspirations and contextual determinants seem to be less influential. Furthermore, results highlight the importance of gaining familiarity and experience with academic work for students' career decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75 - 89
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502050 Business informatics

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