Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Deeb Paul Kitchen

Committee Member

Anne Joslin


African-American students, Black Studies, doctoral programs, educational discrimination, Latinx students, systemic racism


This applied dissertation was designed to provide an investigation of the motivators that influence African American and Latinx students to complete a doctoral program. There are numerous studies that show data on low enrollment and retention of this population. Further, there is ample evidence of attrition, but there is a need to hear their voices share the experiences of successful doctoral graduates from this population.

The researcher posited systemic racism in education caused low enrollment and graduation rates among African American and Latinx students. Then, an interview protocol was developed to elicit responses regarding what caused the persistence to complete the doctoral program.

An analysis of the narrative did not expose systemic racism in education, rather it revealed African American and Latinx students who were supported by academic mentors who encouraged them; friends, family, and colleagues who motivated them to enroll in higher education programs; their self-motivation to enroll; determination to complete the degree; and how they were able to overcome obstacles including isolation and loneliness, particularly during the dissertation stage to graduate with the doctorate degree. Participants suggested future doctorate students know what career they want before they start a program. They recommended that universities make the doctorate degree more affordable, provide better access to resources, hire more faculty and administrators of color, and offer mentorship programs to encourage this population to enroll and complete the doctorate degree.