Pay to Play? How Reducing APSA Division Fees Increases Graduate Student Participation
By Bailey R. Fairbanks, University of Central Arkansas, Fabian G. Neuner, Arizona State University, Isabel M. Perera, Cornell University, Christine M. Slaughter, University of California, Los Angeles
In 2017, the American Political Science Association (APSA) Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession launched an initiative to lower the cost of Division (i.e., organized section) membership for students to promote graduate students’ professional development and to advance Division interests. This article assesses the effect of this intervention on Division membership. Using APSA membership data, we find that almost two thirds of Divisions that charged fees in 2017 reduced or eliminated student fees between 2017 and 2019, nearly halving the average student dues (i.e., from $11.57 in 2017 to $5.84 in 2019). As a result, average student membership increased by more than 300% in Divisions that reduced fees (i.e., from 79.5 in 2017 to 248.7 in 2019), compared to a marginal 30% increase in those that did not reduce fees. These outcomes of the initiative support additional efforts to reduce the costs of APSA participation for graduate students.