U.S. Graduate Students’ Prevalence of Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:Graduate students, Post-traumatic stess, COVID-19, Graduate Education, Pandemic, College & Universities
OBJECTIVE: The objective was to learn the extent that graduate students amid the COVID-19 pandemic exhibited post-traumatic stress symptoms.
METHODS: We surveyed graduate students at twelve U.S. universities and analyzed 4,036 survey responses.
RESULTS: 31% of graduate student respondents described post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), defined as experiencing strong reactions on an ongoing basis to events they would usually take in stride. Women and students from historically marginalized racial groups reported greater PTSS than men and White students. PTSS were correlated with food and housing insecurity, concerns about career plans, and degree timelines. PTSS were lower for students who felt supported by advisors and institutional policy changes.
CONCLUSIONS: Combined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s trauma guidelines, our results provide a basis for university leaders’ actions to support graduate students; readily accessible food and housing assistance, policies that facilitate effective advising, and enhanced student agency via career planning.