An Examination of the Differences in Doctoral Students' Levels of Life Stress, Burnout, and Resilience by Program Phase



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The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of differences among life stressors, burnout, and resilience for educational leadership doctoral students based on program phase. This study was intended to provide information to assist students who are in various phases (first, second, and third phases) of their doctoral program. There is a dearth in academic literature about the combined concepts of doctoral students, life stressors, burnout, and resilience. Life stressors, burnout, and resilience have been examined within the literature with some frequency; however, doctoral student burnout has not been examined, specifically in relation to differences in levels of life stressors, levels of burnout, and levels of resilience. Doctoral education is rife with academic stress (Ali & Kohun, 2006; Jones, 2013; Lovitts, 2005), financial pressures (Callender & Jackson, 2005; Ehrenberg et al., 2007; Hira et al., 2000), social challenges (Ali & Kohn, 2006; Lovitts, 2001; Ross, Niebling, & Heckert, 1999), and family obligations (Boes, Ullery, & Cobia,1999; Lipschutz, 1993; Lovitts, 2001; Middleton, 2001; Smith, Maroney, Nelson, Abel, & Abel, 2006). Doctoral students are prime candidates for experiencing life stressors and burnout.

Participants for this study were comprised of EdD doctoral students studying educational leadership with an emphasis in either higher educational leadership and/or K-12 leadership at a university in Southeast Texas.

The findings indicated that a majority of students in this study had low levels of the negative components of experienced life stress, and the two negative components of burnout through exhaustion and cynicism. When examining positive innate qualities of professional efficacy and resilience, the largest percentage of students in this study have a medium level of previously stated positive aspects.



Life stress, Burnout, Resilience, Doctoral students