Publication Date

Fall 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Barbara Burch (Director), Gene Tice, and Kristin Wilson

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


This study focuses on persistence efforts at the master’s level at regional comprehensive public institutions, with student interviews and document research used as data sources. The interviews are conducted with students who are currently enrolled in or have graduated from master’s programs at one of the two institutions studied, while the documents examined were texts for internal and external constituencies.

While Tinto’s Longitudinal Model of Doctoral Persistence is used as a guide for the research, a variety of student retention models are examined that encompass both undergraduate and doctoral persistence. Challenges include the lack of models specifically intended for master’s seeking students, as well as the absence of standardized data collection for graduate student persistence (as compared to undergraduate focused persistence data).

This research identifies the importance of graduate faculty support, selfmotivation, and peer support to graduate persistence. While students do not perceive graduate persistence to be an institutional priority, particularly when compared with undergraduate persistence, the heterogeneity of graduate students, from recruitment and admission through program completion, makes it difficult to achieve similar results with similar activities. Nevertheless, institutions have the opportunity for significant improvement with regard to graduate persistence efforts.


Educational Leadership | Higher Education