Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

William Jr Bosher


The purpose of this study was to determine the most significant factors that contributed to on-time undergraduate degree completion. On-time degree completion requires that a student complete all the requirements of their degree within 4.5 years or less. A grounded theory methodology was used to conduct the study. Narrative data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Thirty former students who completed their undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University were recruited for this study. To be eligible for the study, participants had to have completed their undergraduate degree in 4.5 years or less and graduated between 2004 and 2011. The analysis of the narrative data determined that preparation for on-time completion begins in high school and continues throughout a student’s college career. First, high school students who develop ‘academic self-esteem’ by participating in an honors courses or an early college credit program in high school enter college with the belief, or personal vision, that they can complete their degree in 4 years. However, in cases where the student matriculates without ‘academic self-esteem’ directed and intensive institutional support is an effective proxy. Next, a student must be self-motivated or determined to complete on-time. They must have an inherent reason for wanting to reach that goal post. However, since the findings indicated that motivation can be internal, external, or both, institutional support can be used as effective tool to develop these qualities where needed. Third, if students are to complete their undergraduate degrees on-time, they must develop a personal plan for accomplishing that goal at the very beginning of their college careers. This plan should be incorporated into the student’s academic advising sessions and updated as they acquire the credits required for the completion of their degree. And finally, students should be strongly encouraged to engage in campus life by participating student clubs, organizations, and/or athletics. Participation in campus life encourages persistence and therefore supports on-time completion.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013