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K. Andrew R. Richards, Karen Lux Gaudreault, Kelly L. Simonton and Angela Simonton

Researchers have begun using occupational socialization theory to understand the experiences of physical education teacher education doctoral students and faculty members. Comparatively little work has been done with graduate students pursuing research-focused masters’ degrees. These programs can serve as pipelines into PhD programs and have implications for the process of becoming a faculty member. Using a qualitative methodology grounded in existential phenomenology, this 2-year longitudinal study sought to understand the perspectives of Angela and Kelly as they navigated the master’s degree program. Data were collected through interviews, an online discussion forum, and text message conversations. Data analysis resulted in the construction of three themes and associated subthemes to describe the data. The primary themes included: (a) adjusting to graduate student life, (b) the importance of relationships, and (c) preparing for life after graduate school. Results are discussed using occupational socialization theory, and implications for research and practice are suggested.