Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Susan Bodnar-Deren

Second Advisor

Mark Plume

Third Advisor

Amy Adkins


Fundamental Cause Theory suggests that socioeconomic and demographic factors are causal to various illnesses, including depression. However, no known previously existing research has used Fundamental Cause Theory to create a model of depression among college students. To do this, the present study conducted a stepwise binomial logistic regression to examine how socioeconomic status and the sociodemographic variables of Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation, and others predict depressive symptoms in a large sample of undergraduates when controlling for stressful life events and social support (N = 2,915). Results support the hypothesis that socioeconomic disparities in depressive symptoms are the result of stress. In the final model, low Social Support was the most predictive variable of high depressive symptoms (OR = 2.882), followed by being bisexual (OR = 2.061). Being black was significantly protective against high depressive symptoms (OR = 0.613). Implications for future research and university services are discussed.


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