Knowing, Doing, and Becoming: Professional Identity Construction among Public Affairs Doctoral Students

Public administration scholars have long examined how doctoral students in public affairs are trained to become researchers. Our study adds to this body of knowledge by examining socialization and professional identity construction processes among doctoral students conducting public affairs research. We develop a multilevel model of the organizational, relational, and individual level tactics through which they learn to become researchers. In particular, our study offers insight into the interactions between students and faculty that contribute to their development, as well as into students’ own proactivity. Our study uses interview data from doctoral students in multiple disciplines who are conducting research in public affairs. We conclude with a discussion of our model and recommendations for doctoral programs.