Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Susan Leone


This qualitative study examined the experiences of 20 African American men who graduated from predominately White institutions in one mid-Atlantic state between the years of 2001 and 2011 with doctoral degrees in Education or in a Humanities and Sciences field. Interviews were conducted to gather the lived experiences of the African American men in their own voices. The study addressed the following research questions: 1. Why do African American men persist to doctoral degree completion? 2. How do African American men perceive their doctoral student experience? A descriptive model that presents the internal and external factors revealed in the study is provided. Five main internal factors that contribute to the persistence of African American men in doctoral programs: personal refinement, academic refinement, professional refinement, motivation, and effective coping mechanisms were revealed. Three major external factors, support systems, positive relationships with the advisor/chair and committee, and financial support. In addition, the impact of the participants’ racial identity was explored and yielded both negative and positive effects on the doctoral student experience. Based upon the results, recommendations are offered for universities and departments, advisors and faculty, and future and current African American male doctoral students to aid them in persistence to degree completion.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012

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