Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Sauers

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Ogletree

Third Advisor

Dr. James Kahrs


Doctoral student attrition is a significant problem of practice for higher education (Dorn & Papalewis, 1997; Peterson, Kovel-Jarboe, & Schwartz, 1997; Dixon, 2016; Buss, Zambo, R., Zambo, D., Perry, & Williams, 2017). African American males complete doctoral degrees at a significantly lesser rate than other races in this country and fewer than African American females. This study explored the research problem of doctoral student attrition by examining African American male doctoral student success factors in EdD programs in the United States. The study’s purpose was to examine the experiences and perceptions of African American male graduates of EdD programs to determine the factors that supported their program completion while also serving in a leadership capacity in their professional roles. The following research questions guided this study: 1) What program and institutional components supported these AAM students in their doctoral pursuits and contributed to the successful attainment of their EdD degrees? And 2) What individual factors enabled these African American male students to persist to the successful completion of their EdD degrees? Tinto’s Student Retention Theory (1993) framed this study.

This qualitative case study was conducted virtually. Participants were recruited online. Members of the social media Facebook group entitled “Doctor of Education (EdD) Network” who met the study criteria were invited to participate. The data collection consisted of interviews with eight African American males who earned an EdD while also serving in leadership roles within the last five years, as well as documents. Data analysis involved organizing data into categories based on the student retention theory framework. Findings from this study highlight the factors supporting African American male doctoral student retention and program completion. The study’s findings build upon the existing literature and support further studies on attrition and retention of African American male students in EdD and other professional doctoral programs. More light has been shed on the issue, providing insight to educational leaders whose institutions, programs, and students may benefit from any revelations uncovered through this research.


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