Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

College of Education and Human Development

Committee Chair

Hirschy, Amy Seleste

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Stringfield, Samuel

Author's Keywords

Education; African American; African American men; Black men; Retention; Graduation


African American male college students; African American college graduates; College dropouts--Prevention


African American males have the highest college attrition rates of all races and genders (Harper, 2006a). Federal reports indicate that 54.4%of White males finish their college degrees, compared with 33.1% of African American males (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). The 21.3 percentage point disparity leads many to believe that African American male students may need special attention in order to close the gap. Understanding how Black male graduates succeeded and avoided obstacles which could have potentially contributed to their attrition will help colleges take a proactive stance and implement strategies to support and safeguard other Black male students facing similar challenges (Warde, 2008). Toward this end, the focus of this study was to investigate the factors that contributed to the success of 15 African American men in obtaining baccalaureate degrees from one mid-sized, urban public university, the University of Louisville. Employing a qualitative research design framed by a phenomenological orientation, the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with African American male alumni who graduated from the University of Louisville between 2007 and 2012. The data were analyzed using Morrissette’s (1999) seven stage step-wise approach, which is specifically designed for studies with a phenomenological orientation. The results of the analyzed data revealed five factors as being significant contributors to participants’ successful retention and completion of their baccalaureate degree: 1. having access to monetary resources to attend and persist in college; 2. having a mentor; 3. participating in recognized student organizations; 4.having family support; 5. taking one or more courses in Pan African Studies. Recommendations for institutions of higher education and suggestions for future research are discussed.