Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Tomeka Davis

Second Advisor

Dr. James Ainsworth

Third Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Gayles



Alarming national statistics reveal the scope and trajectory of inequality that exists for African American men completing bachelor’s degrees. Public institutions confer bachelor’s degrees to Black males at a rate of just under 35% within the six-year benchmark, the lowest completion rate among all racial groups and for male and female students. Of interest to this work is whether social capital – in the form of informal faculty mentoring and peer network support – has a significant impact on college persistence for African American men who successfully attain bachelor’s degrees. The study investigates the influence of social class, pre-college attributes, such as educational attainment aspirations, and propensity to seek social support, as contributors to college completion. The theoretical framework informing this study draws from social capital theory, Tinto’s retention theory, Harper’s anti-deficit achievement framework, intersectionality theory, and the academic resilience perspective. This study takes a mixed-methods approach using nationally representative data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09). It also uses qualitative data from interviews with African American men who attempted bachelor’s degrees at colleges and universities in the state of Georgia – 20 who successfully completed the degree programs they started, and 5 who did not finish the programs they started (although 1 of these 5 went on to complete his degree at a different, out-of-state university). Findings contribute to the limited sociology of education literature on African American male students’ college experiences, and inform higher education administrators’ efforts to implement or improve policies that promote increasing Black men’s retention and completion rates. Further, what is learned from this research will help administrators to address strengthening the graduate school pipeline for Black men. These objectives are important for bridging postsecondary education attainment disparities.


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