Purdue University Graduate School
MAN Dissertation Final.pdf (1.86 MB)

Depressive Symptoms and The Stress Process in Racial/Ethnic Minority Graduate Students

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posted on 2019-01-17, 14:26 authored by Martin A. NolascoMartin A. Nolasco

In the last several years, it has become apparent that racial/ethnic minority graduate students face an increased risk for mental health issues (Clark, Mercer, Zeigler-Hill, & Dufrene, 2012; Paradies et al., 2015). Contextualizing their experiences and determining what factors play a role in increasing this risk specifically for racial/ethnic minority graduate students could help provide information about areas for intervention. However, there is a lack of literature on the experiences of racial/ethnic minorities in graduate school and the implications of those experiences for their mental health. It is important to understand their experience in the context of minority status stress through the use of Stress Process Theory (Pearlin, Menaghen, Lieberman, & Mullan, 1981). As such I hypothesized several positive and unique contributions to depressive symptoms by career and education barriers and minority status stress. Additionally, I hypothesized that minority status stress would mediate the relationship between career and education barriers and depressive symptoms, and that perceived family social support would moderate the relationships between career and education barriers, minority status stress, and depressive symptoms. To this end I used this regression-based, quantitative study to examine the associations between the perception of career and education barriers, minority status stress, perceived family social support, and depressive symptoms among a sample (N = 311) of domestic racial/ethnic minority graduate students currently enrolled in degree granting programs. The results revealed that the perception of career barriers uniquely contributed to depressive symptoms, although not in the hypothesized direction with career barriers being a negative predictor of depressive symptoms. Minority status stress uniquely contributed to depressive symptoms in the hypothesized directions and serves as a mediator between the perception of career barriers and depressive symptoms. The perception of education barriers did not uniquely contribute to depressive symptoms. Additionally, perceived family social support moderated only the relationship between the perception of career barriers and depressive symptoms; a moderator effect was not found in any other relationship. Implications for future research and practice, as well as the study’s limitations are discussed


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Ayse Ciftci

Additional Committee Member 2

Eric Deemer

Additional Committee Member 3

Yukiko Maeda

Additional Committee Member 4

David Rollock

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