Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

Kenda S. Grover

Second Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili


Social sciences, African-American, Doctoral students, First-generation students


The purpose for conducting the study was to examine the factors that motivate African-American first-generation students to pursue doctoral education at a four-year public university. There has been little research on the influence academic or non-academic factors have on first-generation graduate student motivation. Similarly, little research exists that explored how factors might vary by ethnicity. Based on the projected increase of post-baccalaureate enrollment each year (Aud, Hussar, Planty, Snyder, Bianco, Fox, Frohlich, Kemp, Drake, 2010), first-generation African-Americans will become more interested in attending graduate school. It is important to gain a better understanding of the factors and influences that impact this student population. Therefore, the study explored why these students progressed, who or what encouraged them, what challenges they had to overcome, why they felt it necessary to further their education, and what motivated them. Specifically, the study determined motivating factors for first-generation graduate students to pursue and attend graduate school with the intention of obtaining a doctoral degree. Overall, this study provided specific examples of influences and motivating factors that encouraged this population to pursue.