The aims of this paper are to better understand the challenges faced by doctoral students who are on academic leave, and to offer policy recommendations with the aim of accelerating the completion time and increasing the graduation rates of doctoral students in Georgia. By analyzing completion rates of PhD students in Georgia and identifying the support mechanisms offered by universities or lack thereof, the paper analyzes the main reasons for widespread delays in graduation and offers some guidance to address a complex and multilayered problem.
The study focuses on two main research questions. First, how has the doctoral landscape changed in Georgia from 2016 to 2021? Second, what barriers do PhD students encounter at individual, institutional, and systemic levels affecting the completion of their studies? The paper ends with a set of policy recommendations to overcome those barriers to improve both completion time and graduation rates.