Black Males' Return and Completion of Postsecondary Degrees Following Earlier Attrition

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Spring 2014


As a whole, the Black community has seen an increase in the number of postsecondary degrees earned primarily because of Black females who have out-earned Black males in degree attainment at all levels. The disparity between Black males and their female counterparts raises questions about the reasons for the premature departures of these male students from higher education, their eventual returns, and degree completions. This phenomenological study examined the experiences of 10 Black males who completed their bachelor's degrees after prior attrition. Three research questions guided this study: (1) What causes Black males to discontinue their postsecondary degrees and leave college?, (2) What factors influence Black males' decisions to return to postsecondary education?, and (3) What factors help or hinder returning Black males in completing their degrees? The findings indicated that many reasons exist for why Black males depart higher education prematurely; however, a major cause is their inabilities to overcome challenges. Personal motivation was also a major factor in Black males' desires to return to complete their degrees; this motivation was not related to their quality of life outside of school. Employment and mindset were two other factors that helped or hindered Black males in completing their degrees. Finally, the followings three themes emerged from the findings: 1) "It's Not You, It's Me," 2) "When I'm Ready, I'm Ready," and 3) "It's Not About the Degree, It's What the Degree Means."


Joyce A. Scott

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Higher Education