National Louis University Dissertations

National Louis University
Digital [email protected]
The Importance Of Leadership Activities In Addressing The
Shortage Of African American Men Completing Doctoral Degrees
Lerita Watkins
Follow this and additional works at:
Part of the Adult and Continuing Education Commons, Educational Leadership Commons, Education
Economics Commons, Other Education Commons, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Recommended Citation
Watkins, Lerita, “The Importance Of Leadership Activities In Addressing The Shortage Of African
American Men Completing Doctoral Degrees” (2020). Dissertations. 439.
This Dissertation – Public Access is brought to you for free and open access by Digital [email protected]. It has been
accepted for inclusion in Dissertations by an authorized administrator of Digital [email protected]. For more
information, please contact [email protected].
Doctoral Dissertation Research
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of
National Louis University
College of Professional Studies and Advancement
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Education
Organizational Leadership
Lerita Nefertiti Watkins
April 2020
Copyright ©2020
Lerita Nefertiti Watkins
All rights reserved
Doctoral Dissertation Research
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of
National Louis University
College of Professional Studies and Advancement
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Education
Organizational Leadership
Lerita Nefertiti Watkins
Dissertation Committee Approval:
Pender Noriega, DBA, Chair Date
Kathleen Cornett, PhD, Member
Kathleen Cornett Digitally signed by Kathleen Cornett
Date: 2020.04.11 11:39:26 -04’00’
Pender B. Noriega Digitally signed by Pender B. Noriega
DN: cn=Pender B. Noriega, o, ou,
[email protected], c=US
Date: 2020.04.10 18:44:26 -04’00’
The focus in this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine the experiences of
African American men who obtained a doctoral degree and the role of leadership in their
success. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 African American
men from across the United States. The research develops an understanding of patterns of
leadership within institutions of higher education from an African American male
perspective. Elements of the critical race theory served as the basis for the conceptual
framework. The significant statements made by the 10 African American men reflected
their distinct perceptions of the role leadership plays in African American men’s pursuit
of their doctoral degree. Their articulation of the direct exploration, analysis, and
description of the phenomenon allowed five themes to surface: (a) impact of selfestablished
cohorts, (b) impact of mentors and the military, (c) impact of family, (d)
impact of spirituality, and (e) impact of a lack of leadership. The results of this study
support that there is a grave lack of African American male presence within leadership of
higher education institutions and no relatable activities are being implemented or
developed to meet the needs of African American men. Conclusively, the researcher
suggests future research into the experiences and perspectives of African American men
to broaden the conversation surrounding how leadership can help level the playing field
for this population at institutions of higher education.
This dissertation is dedicated to God, and I am grateful for his enduring for me. I
thank God for providing me with the provision of strength and courage to take this
journey. Even when I did not have the confidence in myself to persevere, God helped me
to keep believing and to keep moving forward. This dissertation is dedicated to every
little cousin, niece, and nephew, as well as my brothers. I want all of you to know that the
sky is the limit, so continue believing in yourself. Always be willing to be the master of
any dream that you may have in life, I know you will do well. I pray to God that nothing
is beyond your reach in life, and that you always remember to put God first. Thank you
for being the inspiration for my research study.
First, I would like to thank my Grandmother for always being my inspiration for
wanting to do my best in life. My parents for making an amazing human being. I would
like to thank my friends for allowing me to vent and often times listened to me complain
about the amount of time and work that went into this process. Sylvia was the reason I
even took the leap of faith.
I also owe much gratitude to Dr. Robin, who placed me in dissertation boot camp
right when I was trying to give up. Dr. Robin, you gave me a confidence I didn’t know I
had in me. I would also like to thank my committee members, Dr. Noriega and Dr.
Cornett, who pushed me to limits I didn’t know I could reach. I would like to thank each
of my family members who said an encouraging word, and my cousin Vincent who
inspired me by becoming a published author before 21 years of age. I appreciate each
African American male doctor who took the time in these perilous times that COVID-19
pandemic has wreaked havoc on the United States, your time will never go unnoticed. In
closing, to my friends Clevitta and Taniesha, and everybody else on this journey who is
African American, I say to you this may be a long journey that may seem as if it will
never end, but I encourage you to stay the course. Once you all are done, you would have
fulfilled a prophecy of our ancestors.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………….1
Problem Statement …………………………………………………………………………………………………3
Purpose of the Study ………………………………………………………………………………………………8
Research Question …………………………………………………………………………………………………9
Significance of the Study ………………………………………………………………………………………12
The Leadership Role …………………………………………………………………………………………….15
The Role of Motivation …………………………………………………………………………………………18
Detailed Findings From the Literature …………………………………………………………………….20
Methodology ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….22
Determination to Overcome Marginalization …………………………………………………………..24
Institutional Racism in the System …………………………………………………………………………27
Socioeconomic Status …………………………………………………………………………………………..37
Parental Influence ………………………………………………………………………………………………..40
Critical Race Theory …………………………………………………………………………………………….43
Isolation ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….45
Expectations …………………………………………………………………………………………………47
Economics ……………………………………………………………………………………………………48
Influence ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..49
Support ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..50
Colaizzi’s Method ………………………………………………………………………………………………..51
Method ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..51
Culture …………………………………………………………………………………………………………52
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ………………………………………………………………..54
Research Design…………………………………………………………………………………………………..54
Research Questions ……………………………………………………………………………………….55
Participants …………………………………………………………………………………………………..56
Instrumentation …………………………………………………………………………………………….56
Data Collection ……………………………………………………………………………………………………58
Procedures …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..59
Validity ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………60
Data Analysis ………………………………………………………………………………………………………60
Ethics and Confidentiality……………………………………………………………………………………..62
CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS ……………………………………………………………………………..64
Restatement of Purpose…………………………………………………………………………………………64
Data Analysis Process …………………………………………………………………………………………..65
Demographics ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..66
Individual Participant Profiles ……………………………………………………………………………….67
Coding ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..72
Emergent Themes ………………………………………………………………………………………………..73
Impact of Self-Established Cohorts …………………………………………………………………74
Impact of Mentors and the Military …………………………………………………………………76
Impact of Family …………………………………………………………………………………………..78
Impact of Spirituality …………………………………………………………………………………….80
Impact of a Lack of Leadership ………………………………………………………………………81
Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….82
Discussion and Explanation of Findings………………………………………………………………….85
Review of the Study ……………………………………………………………………………………………..86
Research Question 1 ……………………………………………………………………………………..87
Research Question 2 ……………………………………………………………………………………..88
Limitations of the Study………………………………………………………………………………………..90
Recommendations for Future Research …………………………………………………………………..90
Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………………………91
REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………………………………………………93
APPENDICES …………………………………………………………………………………………………..103
A. Research Instrument………………………………………………………………………………………104
B. Invitation to Participate ………………………………………………………………………………….106
C. Informed Consent for Individual Interviews……………………………………………………..107
The history pertaining to the lack of educational opportunities for African
Americans in the United States has been well identified by the National Center for
Education Statistics (NCES). According to the NCES (2015), African American students’
admission into higher education institutions increased from 10% to 15% between 1976
and 2012. This increase reflects a trend that a greater number of African American
students are seeking higher education but compared to their Caucasian counterparts, a
significant gap remains in terms of admissions. The difference in the number of African
American men with doctoral degrees and the general population is now increasing. From
1976 until 2017, doctoral students became more diverse. Results of a study conducted by
the Council of Graduate Schools in 2017 revealed 53.5% of all the students enrolled in
doctoral degree programs were female, and of those enrolled students, 23.9% were
underrepresented minorities (Okahana & Zhou, 2018). Although the literature is growing,
there are still areas in which little is known about underrepresented minorities in higher
education. Warde (2014) explained that African American women are enrolled in college
at twice the rate of African American men and at higher rates than Caucasian men and
women. There is a disparity in higher education achievement between African Americans
and Caucasians, with relatively low numbers of African American men attending and
graduating from an institution of higher education with a degree. The NCES (2007b)
reported that 1,253 (3.8%) doctoral degrees awarded in the United States were earned by
African Americans in 1976 (Ingram, 2016). Of that number, doctoral degrees were
earned by 766 (61%) African American men. More recently, the NCES (2012) reported
that 10,417 (7.4%) doctoral degrees earned in the United States were earned by African
Americans in 2010. Of that number, African American women were the majority
recipients of those degrees (Ingram, 2016).
The literature is not as prevalent concerning the African American male doctoral
student, even though in the United States a number of laws and policies, such as the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, or national origin)
and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting sex discrimination),
have been created throughout history in an attempt to advance the education of
minorities. The disenfranchisement of African Americans in the United States originated
during the time of slavery when African Americans were condemned to a lifetime of
servitude, meaning they were unable to learn to read and write English and were not
considered to be a whole human being. Prior to the abolition of slavery, for tax purposes
slave owners wanted to count only free persons. However, there were many states
advocating for counting slaves toward their total and Congress stepped in and
compromised to count slaves as three-fifths of a person (T. S. Jenkins, 2006; Woodson,
The low number of African American men receiving doctorates should raise
concern among students, faculty, and administrators in higher education. Diversity in
higher education is a subject that must constantly be considered, as it is important and
beneficial to all parties. Nussbaum and Chang (2003) reported diversity has an impact on
every aspect of higher education, including leadership engagement, student enrollment,
and curricular development. Hence, there is a need for those in leadership to also come
from diverse backgrounds. According to Conchas (2006), interactions with diverse
faculty from different ethic backgrounds provide students an opportunity to learn a
different leadership style. Leaders must go beyond simply developing initiatives of laws
and policies. They may need to view African American men as a group that needs
additional awareness and motivation. Promoting self-awareness about pursuing higher
education among group members and motivating group members to reduce the
discrepancy between the goals and the current performance of the group might be even
more beneficial to all levels of leadership when it comes to motivating and implemented
activities within this group (Peterson & Behfar, 2005).
Problem Statement
A vast number of individuals receive doctoral degrees but there remains a
shortage of representation by African American men. It will take the involvement of
individuals at all levels of leadership to assist in developing a significant change. Berry
(2018) illustrated that the lack of African Americans holding a doctoral degree in the
United States is a pattern indicated in the number of African American women (44.8%)
and men (33.1%) versus their Caucasian counterparts. He found that only 7.9% of the
total African American male population in the United States in the age group of 18 to 24
years were undergraduates at public flagship colleges and universities (Berry, 2018).
Hence, this underrepresentation contributes to the small pool of potential recruits from
which leaders of colleges and universities can choose applicants when attempting to
sustain diversity in their student body.
One initial attempt to rectify the unequal treatment of African Americans was the
U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case that supported the
idea that separate but equal was constitutional in all capacities of humanity, including
education. The idea of separate but equal was inconsistent because things were not equal.
The verdict enshrined the doctrine of “separate but equal” as a constitutional justification
for segregation, safeguarding the survival of laws geared toward discrimination (Vann
Woodward, 1964). In addition, the groundbreaking case in Topeka, Kansas, of Brown v.
Board of Education in 1954, declared segregation in education unconstitutional. In this
lawsuit, Oliver Brown claimed schools for Black children were not equal to White
schools. The case went before the U.S. District Court in Kansas, which agreed that public
school segregation had a “detrimental effect upon the colored children” (Sunstein, 2004
p. 103).
According to the NCES (2015), African American students’ enrollment in higher
education institutions increased from 10% to 15% between 1976 and 2012. Although this
trend indicates a greater number of African American students are seeking higher
education, a significant gap still exists in enrollment when compared to the students’
Caucasian counterparts. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination everywhere
federal funds were spent, commanding the government to act on the discrimination
within the school system. The completion rate among African Americans pursuing a
bachelor’s degree or higher is lower in comparison to other ethnic groups (Everett,
Rogers, Hummer, & Krueger, 2011).
According to the NCES (2012), the number of African American men attending
college is lower than other ethic groups. The overall number of degrees granted to
women across all ethnicities exceeds the number awarded to men, and the discrepancy
between African American male and female college graduates is the largest (NCES,
2012). Musu-Gillette et al. (2016) specified that despite some gains, the rate of progress
in terms of education has varied among ethic groups and differences by race and ethnicity
persist in terms of increases in attainment and progress on key indicators of educational
performance. For example, the percentage of adults age 25 and older who had earned at
least a bachelor’s degree in 2013 was highest for Asian adults (52%). Of the other racial
and ethic groups, 14% of Hispanic adults, 15% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults,
16% of Pacific Islanders, 19% of African Americans, 32% of adults of two or more races,
and 33% of Caucasian adults had earned at least a bachelor’s degree (Musu-Gillette et al.,
2016). African American men have pursued doctoral degrees at a lower percentage than
men of other ethnic groups. If the number of African American men pursuing a doctoral
degree increases, other African Americans may be influenced by their achievement and
decide to pursue a doctoral degree.
There has been uncertainty in the past that may have discouraged African
Americans from pursuing degrees. Affirmative action programs were founded to disrupt
the visible and invisible barriers, to make laws fair for those who have been left behind,
and to make sure everyone is given an equal chance regarding higher education and
employment (Civil Rights 101, 2001). There is no doubt that the government has made
attempts at bettering the U.S. education system for the good of those who have been
discriminated against for many years (Civil Rights 101, 2001). In spite of the fact that
studies have shown African American men are primarily undereducated when it comes to
middle and high school education and graduate at only half the rate as their Caucasian
counterparts, between 1976 and 2017, very little scholarly research was conducted to
identify any activities introduced by leadership to help combat these low graduation rates
(J. H. Jackson, 2011). Some have considered the immense impact of educational disparity
economically, politically, socially, and personally within the African American
community and the nation as a whole (“News & views,” 2005). In recent research,
leadership and the impact of leaders on African American male doctoral students has not
been looked at through the lens of students’ educational experiences. It is apparent that in
the past, young African American men were not always included in the conversation
about the future economy.
Gibbs (1988) stated the United States has yet to acknowledge that its future
economy and advancement are intricately tied to the fate of young African American
men. Gibbs stated:
[African American men] will drain more and more of the resources, if they do not
contribute to the economy. [African American men] will oversee urban decay and
urban chaos, if they cannot participate in the revitalization of the cities. The
United States will enter into the 21st century with more serious social, political
and economic problems if they are locked out of the technological and scientific
professions. This will place the nation at an even greater competitive disadvantage
and threaten its position as the leader in the western world. (p. 28)
As a result of the Brown v. Board of Education case, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled that every state had to either build a separate and equal school for African
Americans or desegregate. As a result of the forced desegregation, Caucasian schools
elected to close. Schools that did integrate started to segregate centered around the
academic ability of students. African American students were singled out and placed in
special education classes, although this placement was not justified, whereas Caucasian
students were placed in advanced classes (Stephan, 1978). In 1865, an agreement
regarding the education of African Americans began after the 13th amendment of the
U.S. Constitution outlawed all forms of intentional servitude (Vergo et al., 2018). The
Civil War began a period of Reconstruction, in which the South was forced to rejoin the
Union and the northern ruling class was tasked with providing citizenship to African
Americans (Kliebard, 1987). Despite these occurrences, deficiencies remain in the
nation’s education system.
A more recent case also reflects the deficiency in the education system. The case
of Williams v. State of California was filed in the year 2000 by 100 students as a class
action lawsuit (California Department of Education, 2016). The case encompassed suing
the San Francisco County Superior, the State of California, state agencies, and the
California Department of Education (California Department of Education, 2016). The
origin of the lawsuit was to address the lack of support provided by the State of
California to low-income students, immigrant students, and African American students
via fundamental tools that would assist these students in obtaining an appropriate
education (California Department of Education, 2016). Public schools did not have
access to proper instructional instruments, secure school accommodations, or qualified
educators. The end result was the State of California agreeing to provide the necessary
items to produce a conducive working environment for students in August of 2004
(California Department of Education, 2016).
An additional dilemma for African Americans entering graduate programs in
general is that so many of them are the first to attend college in their family, deemed as
first-generation college students (Owens, Lacey, Rawls, & Holbert-Quince, 2010).
Therefore, many perceive they have achieved success once they have successfully gained
an undergraduate degree. Students not classified as first-generation students can rely on
the experiences of previous family members to help them adapt to the college
environment, whereas first-generation students will normally spend a lot of time
adjusting to the college environment (Barrett, Ghezzi, & Satterfield, 2015). First8
generation college students also face other issues in the decision-making process for
continuing a degree past the undergraduate level, such as parents’ financial challenges
and the unavailability of other types of educational resources (Longmire-Avital & Miller-
Dyce, 2015, p. 376). There might be a need to take care of family first. Students who are
considered first-generation students, which is a category into which many African
Americans fall, often have several disadvantages (Hayes, 2006).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of African
American men who earned doctoral degrees to obtain an understanding of some of the
activities implemented by leaders that motivated them to pursue a higher education. More
importantly, the goal was to identify what activities leaders may be able to implement to
make a significant change in this present trend. Identifying the methods and activities that
can be implemented to help increase the completion rates for these individuals will take
the involvement of all levels of leadership.
Critical race theory (CRT) served as the theoretical framework to enlighten how
some of the activities of the past resulted in the present situation. Though a qualitative
design may start with such a structure for a theoretical framework to prevent the
researcher from forcing preconceptions on the findings, the theoretical framework of a
qualitative study often emerges in the data analysis phase. However, through CRT, the
elements of the phenomena adjoining African American men’s journey as doctoral
students and their experiences in graduate school were investigated. The study was
designed to examine an applicable theory with regard to the graduate educational
experiences of African American men using qualitative methods, inclusive of descriptive
and historical methodologies. This may also explain some of the previous leadership
involvement and possible requirements for the future.
In addition, the researcher attempted to expound on the relationships between
events and behaviors that may have influenced African American male doctoral students
while working toward their doctoral degrees. Enriched understanding of these
relationships may contribute to a possible increase in the enrollment and graduation rates
of African American men pursuing doctoral degrees. The opportunity to chronicle their
lives was intended to reveal suggestions for university policies regarding the impartiality
of student opportunity and access to higher education.
Retention strategies are among the major strategies for increasing the graduation
rate of doctoral students. Leaders will have to place a major emphasis on retaining
African American men in their educational institutions in order to encourage them to
pursue a higher degree. To retain individuals, it is important to have quality recruitment
practices. Therefore, effective recruitment practices must be in place in order for
substantial retention to occur (Mooring, 2016). Improving enrollment may contribute to
an increase in the retention and graduation rates of African American men enrolled in
doctoral degree programs. Improving retention may also have a connection to
institutional policy regarding the equity of student opportunity.
Research Question
The two research questions used to guide this study were:
1. What are the various activities that might be implemented by leaders to
increase the completion rates of African Americans men receiving doctoral
2. What types of activities can be implemented to encourage African American
men to become more motivated to seek a higher degree and encourage others
to do likewise?
The absence of minority doctorate students generally can deter the growth of
diversity within institutions and perpetuates the lack of leaders for African American
students. Faculty and leaders are often seen as a part of the frontline to assist in
motivating students to remain in college and seek higher degrees, but several institutions
have been forced to make reductions in faculty because of budgetary financial
requirements (Schumacher, 2015). When this occurs, there is a negative impact on
institutions with small enrollments, such as historically Black colleges and universities
(HBCUs). Therefore, leaders are forced to develop various strategies and activities to
increase the enrollment and completion rates of African Americans at all degree levels.
Even the attention provided by the White House Initiative on Historically Black
Colleges and Universities toward the improvement in African American educational
facilities by showing increased recognition to HBCUs with the Higher Education Act of
1964 has had very little impact on enrollment in these facilities (Arroyo, Palmer,
Maramba, & Louis, 2017). An important element of understanding how to increase
African American representation in doctoral programs is exploring the leadership and
activities that have been successful or unsuccessful in increasing enrollment numbers.
Further investigation by leadership will be required to determine the types of
activities that can be implemented to encourage African American men to become more
motivated to seek higher degrees and to encourage others to do likewise. According to
Jury, Smeding, and Darnon (2015), university systems provide the same opportunities for
every student to succeed. Most HBCUs do not have the financial support needed to
compete with larger universities that have vast amounts of income from sports teams and
other means. Therefore, many of these major universities are far less affordable to
African Americans. Studies have shown lower social class students have fewer chances
to succeed in these university educational systems as compared to higher social class
students (Jury et al., 2015, p. 1). Hence, because of issues related to status and
affordability, leaders will need to be creative in developing additional strategies for
attracting African American men into doctoral programs.
The following terms are frequently used throughout this dissertation:
Barrier: A hindrance to access, equality, or possession based on an individual’s
gender, ethnicity, racial heritage, limitations, religious preferences, or sexual orientation,
whether actual or perceived (R. Jenkins, 2016).
Counterstories: Counterstories can be archives, testimonies, or discussions that
marginalized groups use to respond to stories previously espoused by the dominant group
(Delgado & Stefancic, 2012).
Historically Black college or university (HBCU): Higher education institutions
that were created to assist in serving the educational needs of Black Americans. These
colleges and universities were established prior to 1964 and their primary task was, and
is, the education of African Americans (U.S. Department of Education, 1991).
Leadership: Leadership is considered as the focus of group procedures, as a
matter of personality, as a matter of inducing compliance, as the exercise of
encouragement, as particular behaviors, as a form of influence, as a power relation, as an
instrument to achieve goals, and as many combinations of these definitions (Bass, 1990,
p. 6).
Mentoring: A unique relationship in which an experienced individual assists
another individual in developing skills and knowledge for personal and professional
growth (Berg, 2016).
Microaggressions: A type of subtle abuse aimed at minorities that can be visual,
verbal, nonverbal, conscious, or unconscious (Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000).
Motivation: A controlled process through which an individual is impelled to
behave, or in this case to pursue a doctoral degree, in a particular manner (Herzberg,
Retention: The ability of an academic institution’s leaders to keep enrolled those
who are academically achieving and meeting all of the financial and scholastic
obligations to the university to obtain a degree (Tinto, 2010).
Significance of the Study
This study was designed to contribute to the understanding of the importance of
leadership implementing of activities that provide support systems and engagement
among African American men pursuing doctoral degrees. The information obtained can
be used to improve retention policies, theory, and practices among leadership at
institutions of higher education, as well as contribute to the increasing body of knowledge
about leadership’s impact on the success of African American men in academia. Results
should also be beneficial in terms of encouraging African American men to move
forward in doctorate programs and for other African American scholars to do the same.
The focus in this research was on how African Americans are underrepresented in
doctoral degree programs. In general, participation by African Americans in doctoral
programs is low in comparison to their White counterparts. According to Hussar and
Bailey (2013), between the years of 2006 and 2010, there was a 20.3% decrease in the
number of White doctoral students whereas the number of Black doctoral students
increased by 4.7%. It is still worth noting that the number of Black students enrolled in
doctoral programs is still very low. These findings were supported by an in-depth
analysis review of the subject of the study that covered current peer-reviewed journals
and dissertations (Fink, 2010). The literature review included empirical research in the
areas of leadership, motivation, opportunities, barriers, and African American culture in
general. The review began with an investigation of research pertinent to the leadership
initiatives that hindered or provided opportunities for college attendance and recruitment.
The literature related to how leadership practices influence African American men to
attend institutions of higher learning and pursue doctoral degrees was also reviewed
(Janta, Lugosi, & Brown, 2012). The literature reviewed for this study also contained a
focus on the factors that influence the selection of colleges and retention in educational
institutions. The influence of leadership within these institutions was a main focus of
interest. Keywords used to locate relevant studies included leadership, motivation and
preparation for college, retention, role models, leadership initiatives, socioeconomic
challenges, educational job expectations, African American culture, and barriers. Date
parameters were established from 2015 to 2020. However, books, journal articles, and
other dissertations pertaining to relevant theory and important variables were included in
the literature review irrespective of date.
Different researchers have confirmed that graduate school advisors can have a
great impact on the performance of Black doctoral students. Farmer and Hope (2015)
conducted an exploration of the impact of various factors on doctoral students of either
Latino or Black descent. Farmer and Hope further stated the main factors that motivated
and contributed to the retention of Black doctoral students come from the advice they
receive from advisors in schools. Postgraduate students who had supportive advisors
were highly motivated and completed their doctoral studies. Farmer and Hope affirmed
that positive interactions between students and faculty are a key reinforcement of a sense
of belonging for Black students in graduate school.
Family support has been shown to be another critical factor in attracting Black
students to postgraduate studies. Parents can bridge the gap when the doctoral students
are not connected to the faculty (Farmer & Hope, 2015). Family members act as a source
of encouragement for postgraduate students in their pursuit of higher learning (Farmer &
Hope, 2015). In addition to the support various postgraduate students receive from their
parents, peers play a role in terms of giving encouragement to postgraduate students to
complete their doctoral degrees. Peer support promotes the integration of Black students
in their respective departments.
The search engines and databases used to locate relevant literature were Google,
ProQuest, Academic Search Premier, and Business Source Elite, among others (Farmer &
Hope, 2015). The services provided by the National Louis University library were used
extensively, along with interlibrary loans and the public library. The reference lists at the
end of articles and dissertations were also scoured to locate previous studies on the topic.
Additionally, educational system websites that pertained to historical data of HBCUs and
other statistical data concerning the attendance and retention of African Americans
students in college and their trends for selection were consulted.
The search for relevant literature revealed there is a lack of empirical research that
specifically addressed leadership practices as they relate to motivating factors that pertain
to African American men attending institutions of higher learning to receive doctoral
degrees (Janta et al., 2012). The majority of the research on African Americans attending
college related to college selection and first-generation college attendees (Jury et al.,
2015). Therefore, leadership practices pertaining to motivators and barriers in general had
to be reviewed to provide a more in-depth review of how leadership practices may
influence African American men to attend college and to also work toward graduate
degrees. The five main areas of concentration of the literature review are leadership roles,
motivation, barriers, opportunities, and African American culture, marginalization, and
discrimination in various learning institutions.
The Leadership Role
African American men are not pursuing doctoral degrees and leadership is not
making sufficient efforts to influence them to do so (Janta et al., 2012). In a
phenomenological study by Levine (2008), the question asked was: Why do African
American men decline to enroll in graduate-level programs? A purposive sample of 16
African American male college students between the ages of 20 and 25 was targeted.
Four major themes emerged from the study: (a) stereotypes, (b) monetary reasons, (c)
standardized testing, and (d) being content. The students did not have any stereotypes on
matters relating to school but highlighted major limitations in terms of capital and
minimal interest as the main causes of a lack of interest in the pursuit of doctoral degrees
in various schools. This is where leadership comes in, as Levine concluded that African
American men need to be challenged to envision the potential for academic and
economic growth (Levine, 2008).
As discussed by researchers, leadership is a key component in the success of
corporate diversity, which is a common part of business strategies. It is critical for all
levels of leadership to manage diversity effectively. First, it is important to define
diversity management. Diversity management reflects a shift from paradigms such as
fairness, access, and legitimacy toward the paradigms of effectiveness and innovation
(Thomas & Ely, 1996).
Researchers have observed that leaders need to have a sense of passion for the
success of diversity initiatives and not treat them as a box to check off for corporate
positioning within the community or industry. Usowicz (2008) showed that leadership’s
role in managing diversity is complex as leaders need to understand the needs and
expectations of the workforce while balancing the needs of the corporation. Usowicz
stated, “The connection between cultures and leadership is complex because each culture
has different expectations in regard to leadership” (p. 1).
Leadership’s main responsibility and concerns are productivity and the bottom
line. Bass (as cited in Usowicz, 2008) defined leadership as:
An interaction between two or more members of a group that often involves a
structuring or restructuring of the situation and the perceptions and expectations
of the members. Leaders are agents of change—persons whose acts affect other
people more than other people’s acts affect them. Leadership occurs when one
group member modifies the motivation or competencies of others in the group. (p.
In interacting with employees, leaders need to be aware of the diverse population
of the organization to understand how to communicate and motivate each employee and
to obtain maximum results. Culture dictates how people communicate and behave.
Managers who are aware of different cultural norms are less likely to incorrectly interpret
behavior (Garden Swartz & Rowe, 2001). Leaders need to embrace diversity as a
component of the business and demonstrate their commitment to the diversity strategy;
they need to comprehend how embracing diversity strategies affect the bottom line
through establishing happy and productive employees.
Researchers have shown that diversity strategies and the use of employee resource
groups lead to employee satisfaction, as they make the workplace a positive place. Janta
et al. (2012) used a multifactor model of leadership based on transformational and
transactional leadership. Through this model, they observed that employees who are
satisfied in the workforce have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of what is
involved in their jobs and their individual roles in the organization in terms of quality and
productivity. Transformational leadership includes seven leadership factors of “charisma,
inspirational, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, contingent reward,
management-by-exception and laissez-faire leadership” (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999, p.
441). The multifactor leadership model is based on Bass’s Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire, which was first developed in 1985 and has been widely used as a
benchmark for identifying behavioral styles for effective leadership.
One of the main actions leaders need to understand is the importance of
leadership in motivating individuals. T. D. Jackson (2016) investigated the relationship
between the transformational leadership style and employees’ perceptions of leadership
success in higher education. The transformative leadership style is a type of leadership in
which teams are involved in creating a vision and effecting change within an
organization. T. D. Jackson found that the four components of transformational
leadership (i.e., idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration,
and inspirational motivation) had an impact on the expected outcomes of followers.
Intellectual simulation involves providing guidance and support for employees to make
them more creative and innovative in the workplace. Individualized considerations entail
an identification of the specific characteristics and demands of individual group members
as a mechanism to increase the general performance of the group. Inspirational
motivation involves enacting a sense of inspiration among followers so they ensure the
maximum performance of their groups. Idealized influence is achieved when different
leaders act as a source of motivation and role models for followers.
The Role of Motivation
Motivational theories can often have an impact on perception and future decisionmaking.
Results of Green’s (2015) study of the influence of personal attributes and
satisfaction among African American men about educational choices indicated there is a
significant relationship between academic achievement and social satisfaction. It is also a
predictor of African American men enrolling at a particular institution if they had it to do
over again (Green, 2015). Herzberg indicated the factors that cause job satisfaction and
motivation are distinct from the factors that cause job dissatisfaction and suggested that
each employee’s basic needs consist of the actual work itself and the degree of challenge
involved (motivator needs) as well as the physical and psychological work environment
(hygiene needs), and he thus proposed a motivation-hygiene theory, also referred to as
the two-factor theory (George & Jones, 2012). Herzberg proposed that employees would
be satisfied when their motivator needs were met and would be dissatisfied if their
motivator needs were not met. Additionally, employees can be satisfied when hygiene
needs are met, but at the same time can remain dissatisfied even when these needs are
met (George & Jones, 2012). In other words, eliminating hygiene factors does not
guarantee employee satisfaction or employee motivation, but can foster a peaceful work
environment within an organization, and employee satisfaction can be improved with
In attempting to understand and explain employee behavior, Herzberg (2003)
further explained that employee dissatisfaction was not the opposite of satisfaction, and
vice versa. Herzberg believed this differentiation lies in the belief that one comes from a
biological drive and inherent need to avoid pain and discomfort and the other stems from
the uniquely human desire to experience psychological growth through personal
achievement. Growth or motivator factors that are central in the workplace include the
actual work being done, achievement and recognition, responsibility, and professional
advancement. The dissatisfaction–avoidance, or hygiene factors, are extraneous elements
in the workforce, such as supervision, company policy, administration, working
conditions, interpersonal relationships, salary, job security, and status (Herzberg, 2003).
The basic premise of the motivator-hygiene theory includes the motivation of
employees, and organizational leaders should provide an enriching workplace that fosters
motivator or growth factors to motivate employees. Herzberg (2003) differentiated
between the ideas of job enrichment and job enlargement, positing that job enrichment
facilitates an opportunity for employees to experience psychological growth whereas job
enlargement entails actually making the employee’s job larger. Robinson (2009)
suggested Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory can be used as a core element in
improving customer growth and retention, as an organization’s leaders endeavor to
understand customers’ changing needs by determining customers’ perceptions of the
quality of products or services.
Although organizational leaders widely accept Herzberg’s work, Sachau (2007)
criticized Herzberg as relying heavily on a single and biased research methodology to
support the theory. However, Sachau reaffirmed that Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene
theory is still a relevant and valuable tool that organizational leaders can use in
developing and evaluating employee satisfaction and productivity schemes.
A major motivational factor in college selection and retention among many
African American men and women is the presence of Greek-letter organizations on the
campus (Janta et al., 2012). Studies have shown the involvement and support of these
organizations can improve the academic and psychosocial outcomes of African American
male students. Ford (2014) conducted a grounded theory study and stated participants
indicated the role of learning institutions is to improve the persistence and success of
these students.
Detailed Findings From the Literature
The U.S. Census Bureau indicated African Americans pursuing undergraduate
degrees account for up to 15.3% of the student population, but only 6% of these students
pursue higher education (Ryan & Bauman, 2016). The lack of African American faculty
makes it difficult to cultivate a unique perspective on education and research. An increase
in the number of African American educators could help minority students accomplish
their goals as they would feel more welcomed into their institutions. The lack of diversity
has affected Black students in various areas, such as student enrollment, curricular
development, faculty engagement, board governance, and institutional outcomes (Janta et
al., 2012).
For an extended duration, the graduation rates of African Americans in doctoral
studies have failed to increase at a tremendous rate in comparison to other races, such as
Whites (Janta et al., 2012). Past studies have revealed Blacks are affected by a
multiplicity of factors such as financial and academic factors, as well as the campus
environment at predominantly White institutions (Ingram, 2016). More specifically,
African Americans have argued that financial issues have significantly affected their
ambition to pursue further education. According to Jones (2017), African American
students pursuing doctoral studies continue to rely on loans and personal income to
sponsor their doctorates. In general, African American families report a lower family
income and socioeconomic status (SES) compared to other racial and ethnic groups
(Perry et al., 2016).
By 2017, African Americans represented about 6% of the full-time students in
U.S. higher institutions of learning (Janta et al., 2012). This implies fewer individuals
from communities of color get the privilege to pursue PhDs. The scarcity of Black
doctoral degree recipients has been attributed to the lack of diversity among educators
(Janta et al., 2012). Between 2002 and 2017, about 50,000 students earned doctorate
degrees, but the population of African Americans who earned PhDs barely rose from
5.1% to 5.4%. Since time immemorial, African Americans have failed to pursue higher
education as a result of failure to nurture their interests, a higher level of disrespect in
their professions, high costs, and ill-treatment and discrimination during the admission
process (Janta et al., 2012).
According to Janta et al. (2012), almost 50% of African Americans who complete
their PhDs graduate with a considerable debt burden. Compared to other racial groups,
Blacks seek loans at a higher rate. African Americans are also not exposed to research
and experience during their undergraduate studies, and this hinders their elevation in
research careers. Scholars have challenged stakeholders to embrace diversity in
institutions of learning because it is a vital element in a pluralistic and interconnected
universe. Diversity would help educators and leaners understand the conditions that will
create a conducive environment for all people to succeed regardless of their ethnic
Ingram (2016) applied a qualitative method to understand the lived experiences of
18 African American male PhD students at predominantly White institutions. From the
findings of this study, the participants agreed about the importance of faculty
encouragement, the motivation to pursue a doctorate, and the personal motivations for
developing their aspiration toward doctorate studies. The male participants agreed that
mentors play a huge role in motivating students of color to pursue doctorate studies.
Additionally, supportive faculty members have the skills to ensure PhD learners are
determined to complete their studies. Most people advance their education to better their
community. Personal motivation among young Blacks can motivate them to pursue PhDs
to combat social issues (C. Turner & Grauerholz, 2017).
The findings in a study conducted by Overton (2018) highlighted four positive
motivational factors for African Americans to pursue doctoral studies: family, career
goals, community, and support. However, the participants revealed incidences of
marginalization in institutions of learning. The results also revealed the importance of
African American professors in positively influencing Black students to enroll in higher
education (Overton, 2018). Furthermore, in a phenomenological study, Snyder, de Brey,
and Dillow (2016) investigated the role of mentoring in the professional development of
African American men at postsecondary institutions. Results showed African American
men claimed the advice given by their mentors shaped their professional development.
Also, candor and trust toward mentors motivated Black men to pursue higher education
(Nottingham, Mazerolle, & Barrett, 2017).
Breitenbach, Bernstein, Ayars, and Konecny (2019) investigated the influence of
family on the success of African American doctoral students. Results of their qualitative
case study showed PhD students consider their immediate and extended family to be
crucial in offering positive support throughout their doctoral studies. A lack of family
support can hinder the success of doctoral students. Regarding African American female
doctorate students, motivational factors, according to most studies, include support from
peers and family as well as support from faculty and administrators (Davis, 2016).
African Americans have faced challenges in their pursuit of higher education,
leading to a low number of PhD graduates among communities of color (Janta et al.,
2012). The factors influencing African Americans to enroll and complete doctorate
studies include family and peer support, support from faculty and administrators, and
mentoring programs.
Determination to Overcome Marginalization
Overton (2018) attempted to establish some of the motivational factors that push
African American men to pursue graduate studies and stressed the fact that African
American people are disproportionately represented in the academe. The author
underscored the fact that African American students account for up to 15.3% of the U.S.
student population both at the undergraduate and graduate levels (Overton, 2018).
However, the same ethnic group only constitutes 6% of faculty positions in colleges and
universities. Notably, African Americans face struggles such as underfunding,
institutional discrimination, and other social factors that impede their inclusion in
university faculty positions (Overton, 2018). Nonetheless, despite facing many challenges
and inequalities, Overton noted there are still some individuals from the African
American community who overcome them and go all the way to fulfill their academic
The need to overcome isolation and marginalization was identified by Overton
(2018) as one of the factors that motivates the majority of African American men to
pursue and complete doctoral degree programs. In an interview with an African
American professor, the professor recalled that marginalization was evident in the
curriculum as it was created by White counterparts to advance and foster their own
relationships with absolutely no regard for individuals from other ethnic groups (Overton,
2018). The professor further noted that African American doctoral students are more
likely to experience marginalization at any point in their studies, particularly in the form
of isolation. African American doctoral students are forced to function in strange and, at
times, hostile environments with an irrelevant curriculum (Overton, 2018). Furthermore,
as most of the instructors at this level were not African American, they were mostly
culturally insensitive, which left the doctoral students disoriented and feeling isolated.
B. Turner (2019) noted that few African American individuals enroll in different
areas of specialization, and in most cases bear the tag of the “only one” in their
classrooms. African American students are more likely to be the only members of their
ethnic descent in their respective courses, which can have a negative impact on their
school life (B. Turner, 2019). Moreover, as the only members of their communities in the
class, African American doctoral students are usually assumed to be the representatives
of their entire communities, not only exerting more mental pressure but also being
considered as outsiders (B. Turner, 2019). Holding the status as the only African
American student in their classroom made them extremely popular and they ended up
participating in multiple roles and executing numerous service functions but did not feel
appreciated and instead felt they were regarded as a token. B. Turner further highlighted
how microaggressions influenced the racial climate in colleges. Microaggressions are
situations that make African American doctoral students question themselves as well as
their position in higher education. Most of the former doctoral students who were
interviewed indicated microaggressions were a primary factor that discouraged them
from pursuing doctoral degrees and caused them to drop out of their respective doctoral
Leaders of universities across the United States have adopted numerous antiracism
policies in a bid to protect the interests of the minorities within their institutions
(Janta et al., 2012). Despite such efforts, a significant number of African American
doctoral students still encounter microaggressions and situations that result in
discouragement, frustration, and demotivation to continue with their studies. B. Turner
(2019) noted some of the African American PhD holders indicated that despite efforts by
their institutions to eliminate discrimination and racism, their encounters with White
faculty members left them disoriented. Though the White faculty members did not
directly insult them, the fact that they tended to force stereotypes upon them in a bid to
make them feel lesser than the other students made them want to discontinue their studies
(B. Turner, 2019). As a result, a significant number of the African American doctoral
students encountered instances of self-doubt that negatively affected their progress and
effectiveness with their studies. A substantial number of students highlighted the
significance of having fellow African American students to provide support and eliminate
the stereotypes they frequently encountered from White faculty members as well as
White colleagues in their classes.
Overton (2018) stressed that the leadership of various universities across the
United States must begin to understand the significance of the racial climate within their
institutions. The author asserted that it is not enough to implement anti-discriminatory
policies in universities as efforts should go further toward sensitizing White faculty
members as well as students about the negative impact of imposing stereotypes on
African American students (Overton, 2018). Ultimately, addressing the underlying issues
will be critical in motivating more African Americans to pursue doctoral degrees and
eventually increasing the number of African American professors in universities across
the country.
McCallum (2017) posited that a lack of diversity in universities has resulted in the
institution of permanent racism in graduate schools. The institutional discrimination that
emerges as a result of a lack of diversity demotivates many African American doctoral
students, forcing many to either discontinue their programs or to take much longer to
complete. The African Americans interviewed by McCallum indicated they remained
determined to complete their studies by being forced to understand the real situation
around them and make the necessary adjustments. The PhD graduates recalled the
significance of fostering personal relationships with their advisors, committee members,
and faculty members in a bid to achieve success (McCallum, 2017). Furthermore, the
African American doctoral students tapped into the existing university social support
systems in addition to fostering positive peer interactions, faculty relationships, and
social integrations, as well as seeking assistance with adjustment issues to ensure success
during their graduate years. Overton (2018) reviewed a study conducted to identify the
success and persistence factors among doctoral students. The findings of the study
showed the success graduate students encountered at their respective places of work was
directly linked to the persistence, resilience, and success they encountered during their
graduate years at the university (McCallum, 2017). Most African American PhD holders
attribute their effectiveness and success at their present workplaces to the socialization
and persistence they nurtured during their student years in a bid to achieve significant
success in their studies.
Institutional Racism in the System
McCallum (2017), in establishing the reason for the lack of diversity in graduate
schools as well as among faculty, inferred that the inescapable attitudes of racism
continue to limit the educational opportunities of African Americans across the country.
Whites have a greater probability of completing both professional and graduate programs
than their African American counterparts as a result of the ethnic challenges with which
African Americans continuously grapple (McCallum, 2017). Additionally, the lower
number of African Americans in universities may have an adverse impact on the few
existing African American students studying on different campuses across the United
States. These students often experience feelings of isolation as they are most likely to be
the only members from their ethnic groups in a class. The fact that there are few or no
African American professors on their respective campuses or teaching their courses
complicates the learning environment (McCallum, 2017). The lack of diversity in
graduate schools provides African American students with few examples of their
ethnicity and culture as well as no faculty professors of color with whom to share their
ordeals (McCallum, 2017). The widening distance between African American doctoral
students and faculty as well as administration signifies that their issues are hardly
factored into the daily operations of their institutions of higher learning.
Grollman (2017), a PhD graduate of African American descent, recounted that
institutional racism was part of his graduate program. He recalled how the majority of his
White student colleagues always considered him to have grown up in the ghetto despite
the fact that his entire upbringing was in suburbia. Members of White communities often
assume that all colored individuals are brought up in poverty and believe the slums and
the ghettos remain their primary areas of upbringing (Grollman, 2017). Furthermore,
African American men are automatically associated, by their White counterparts, with
crime as a survival tactic in such harsh neighborhoods. The situation has not been made
any better as the socio-cultural events tend to put greater emphases on the hard life
African Americans encounter within their ghetto neighborhoods to survive (Grollman,
2017). As such, an African American student to have come so far to join a doctoral
program is always treated as a surprise and a case of pity considering that members from
other ethnic groups do not expect African Americans to be part of academe. Grollman
further noted the casualness with which racism and lack of diversity cases were treated.
He remembered how one of the scholars and a member of the faculty saw no offense with
the instructions of his assistant that prohibited the PhD students in his class from asking
questions that profiled their African American students (Grollman, 2017). The professor
took no issue with Whites “talking African American” with their African American
interviewees, indicating they had no idea about how racial profiling made their victims
Grollman (2017) further observed the fact that most of the PhD holders, some of
whom were faculty members in established universities, were not surprised that such
levels of racism occurred in doctoral programs. The African American professors
indicated they constantly felt the wrath of racism in their daily graduate school life.
Grollman therefore recommended that African American male prospective graduate
students be aware that racism is the norm in academe even in situations in which students
are shielded from microaggressions. Grollman noted racism has been deeply entrenched
in the daily operations of graduate schools, meaning it directly and indirectly dictates
who and what gets published as well as who and what gets funded. Racism will also
dictate who gets admitted and who graduates as well as who gets hired and tenured and
so forth. Therefore, Grollman inferred that as African American men embark on selecting
their respective graduate departments, they should do so from the perspective of how
much racism they will experience as opposed to whether or not they will actually
experience racism. Grollman urged prospective African American male doctoral students
to carefully weigh their options as well as identify the possible and existing support
systems available to help them successfully maneuver through their doctoral programs.
Alston, Guy, and Campbell (2017) noted a significant number of African
American doctoral students tend to assume the presence of a few African American
faculty members will be sufficient to overcome the challenges posed by otherwise racist
graduate schools. Additionally, considering that the interdisciplinary relationships
between the departments within the academe are greatly watered down, the assumption
by prospective African American students that the presence of critical programs such as
African American studies will compensate for the lack of race consciousness or diversity
in the institution in their respective PhD programs such as sociology is a mere fallacy
(Alston et al., 2017). It is critical for prospective African American doctoral students to
perform their due diligence by scrutinizing each program they are considering in the
graduate school. Part of their initial assignment is to establish contact with multiple
individuals and offices, including current students and faculty members, to inquire about
both their personal and professional experiences in relation to their coursework at the
graduate school (Alston et al., 2017). Furthermore, part of their inquiries, especially for
current African American doctoral students, is establishing the type and effectiveness of
the support from and availability of faculty, with publishing, with funding opportunities,
with teaching, with the surrounding communities, and with the university in general. If
the interests of the prospective African American doctoral students are on subjects related
to race, immigration, or ethnicity, it is critical for them to probe whether their work will
be supported by the faculty as well as discreetly indicated in the prospectus that it will be
funded (Alston et al., 2017). Prospective African American doctoral students should take
time to email or call different respondents and pose clear and concrete questions to get
clear information on various issues that will affect their success once they commence
their doctoral studies.
Grollman (2017) also emphasized the need for prospective African American
doctoral students to contact various faculty members and ask questions. At this initial
stage, it is critical for prospective doctoral students to also take note of both the number
of African American faculty members as well as their positions in the faculty; that is, if
they are full professors or tenured associates. Moreover, it was recommended that
prospective African American students use their budding ethnographic skills to observe
how central African American faculty members and students are in the department’s
functions whenever they visit their respective departments. Therefore, as prospective
African American doctoral students prepare to commence their graduate programs,
Grollman recommended establishing a critical support network ahead of time. Notably,
the graduate program hardly focuses on strengthening the personal well-being of African
American doctoral students; hence they should desist from relying on the programs to
realize personal, spiritual, social, and intimate needs. As such, Grollman proposed that
African American doctoral students should amass support beyond their graduate schools
by identifying a community outside their programs. Additionally, African American
students should try as much as possible to avoid engaging in intimate relationships with
fellow students or faculty members as this could easily undermine their studies. Instead,
African American doctoral students should be involved with a graduate student group in
a bid to enhance their social support during their graduate school life (Grollman, 2017).
In other words, African American doctoral students should not entirely position their
lives around their graduate programs but beyond to capture the simple details within their
social environments.
Doctoral programs are usually involved and often become tough as a student
progresses from one stage to the other. With increased learning, students are exposed to
new ideas and facts, which demands more attention and research. Therefore, centering
one’s life on a graduate program could possibly become counterproductive with time;
hence it is recommended that students find ways to unwind without fear that their words
or actions will get back to their colleagues or faculty members. It can be difficult to
navigate racism in a presumably race-neutral or anti-racist environment. As such, African
American students must work to establish a balance between their quest to succeed in
graduate school and in establishing authentic social lives away from daily busy schedules
(Snyder et al., 2016). Notably, a significant number of White graduate students tend to
register greater levels of success by simply striking a definite balance between their
normal lives and hectic graduate school programs. Strongly embracing authenticity helps
both White and African American students to effectively deal with challenges.
Challenges such as failure to secure funding, lack of support from faculty members, or
not doing enough to attain desirable results generate so much pressure that students
become counterproductive in their quest to become successful doctoral students (Snyder
et al., 2016). Techniques for effectively deflating the pressures are something most
African American students do not have, putting most of them in positions that either
make them take longer to graduate or abandon their studies altogether. Notably, there
hardly exists a ready-made happy medium that African Americans can use to address the
racial challenges in their doctoral programs (Snyder et al., 2016). Therefore, it is critical
to establish the perfect life balance to effectively succeed in their doctoral programs.
According to Janta et al. (2012), a significant number of academic studies have
focused more on the adverse experiences and the inadequate support provided to African
American men during both their undergraduate and graduate years in university. The
anti-deficit model by Harper emerged as a significant tool in trying to understand the
lived experiences of African American men as it provides a better perspective about the
postgraduate experience. For instance, there is a perspective that is provided in a bid to
put more emphasis on the factors that determine the low performance and rampant
academic failure of African American men (Janta et al., 2012). Janta et al. provided an
anti-deficit framework involving the college achievement and readiness, pre-college
socialization, and post-college success in a bid to counter the deficit perspective and a
better explanation of how African American men navigate their way through institutions
of higher education, graduate schools, and the marketplace (Snyder et al., 2016).
Recently, studies have pointed to specific African American male experiences,
specifically their academic success. Snyder et al. (2016) deemed their results significant
for the fact that several African American men expressed that their lack of readiness to
join the academe adversely affected their quest to pursue both graduate and professional
Salvo, Shelton, and Welch (2019) observed that African American male graduate
students indicated there was a greater need for academic support considering that some
doubted themselves and thought they were underprepared to pursue graduate studies,
especially doctoral programs. As such, because of their existing feelings of under34
preparedness, the respondents revealed certain barriers and difficulty moving effectively
through graduate and doctoral programs. McCallum (2017) understood the effects of
having African Americans in classroom settings and the possible barriers they encounter
as compared to their peers. Furthermore, the respondents in McCallum’s study reported
that seeking out systems of support such as the library, mentorship, or even counseling
whenever they felt they were in trouble academically was the most effective strategy to
adopt in the learning environment. McCallum suggested support services play a critical
role in the accomplishment of a graduate degree, indicating the significance of both
personal and academic support especially in completing a highly demanding academic
program such as a doctoral degree as well as in navigating daily challenges in their
professional lives.
Additionally, Grollman (2017), in recounting his own experience in graduate
school, stated that although African American doctoral students experience numerous
challenges in identifying and accessing mentorship support, a significant number are
able, at some point in their studies, to find a mentor, whether an administrator, friend,
professor, or simply a family member, to mentor and model them. Hence, easy access to
mentorship and counseling emerged as critical factors that African American doctoral
students felt increased their chances of success and completion of their programs.
Ultimately, access to mentorship, especially from faculty members, has emerged as one
of the most effective strategies for countering institutional racism. Notably, the same
model leaders of community colleges and universities use to establish solid mentorship
systems is highly recommended in doctoral programs (Snyder et al., 2016). Grollman
supported mentorship programs that actively and effectively engage African American
students as a means of countering attrition. Moreover, an effective mentorship program
can be seen as a strong indicator of academic accomplishment both among students and
the institution of higher learning. Forster (2019) agreed with Grollman’s views and noted
African American male respondents highly valued mentorship programs. As such, a
significant number of participants indicated that upon the successful completion of their
doctoral programs they purposely set out to either help out students or simply create
mentorship programs or support systems that were anchored in their experiences as the
ultimate guide.
Ingram (2016), in reviewing some of the things that motivate African American
men to pursue doctoral degrees, also highlighted the racial barriers and microaggressions
that led to discouragement not to join the academe. The author significantly underscored
the bitter reality that African American men continuously experience racial barriers when
pursuing their graduate studies. Despite the fact that the respondents experienced racial
barriers, most were not deterred by their negative effects as they were not prevented from
pursuing and attaining their doctoral degrees (Snyder et al., 2016). The African American
men who were interviewed in Ingram’s study indicated they were able to overcome the
existing disparities as a result of the availability of strong social support from critical
sources such as family, students, and faculty members. The author asserted that the social
relationships between faculty members and their African American students are vital in
the doctoral process. The availability of social support in the academe enabled African
Americans to feel more accepted in the system and connected with the process (Ingram,
2016). Last, Ingram asserted that because the United States continues to experience a
deficit perspective of African American men in educational settings in addition to the fact
that African American men still fall behind academically, understanding the highlighted
factors is critical. Living at a time when race remains a contentious issue in the United
States, understanding the factors that motivate African American men to pursue doctoral
programs underscores the reality that race is a crucial factor that directly affects the social
settings upon which they rely most for mental and psychological support. Therefore, it
was proposed that graduate schools should promote support systems that effectively
counter microaggressions in a bid to facilitate the erosion of some of the salient barriers
members from this demographic group face within their respective university settings. In
turn, Ingram further recommended interventions that aid in the uncovering of other
components that can strengthen and motivate African American men through their
doctoral programs. Additionally, Ingram acknowledged that there are existing support
systems in place that counter academic issues, such as boosting access to mentorship
programs as well as through instituting stronger social ties. On the contrary, overcoming
such racial barriers may be challenging to African American doctoral students. Ingram
noted that sustainable success is achieved by first gaining an in-depth understanding of
the compositions of relationships as well as how such ties between African American
men and faculty and other individuals within their social settings could be fostered to
achieve maximum outcome.
In summation, enhancing the social settings of African American men in graduate
schools is vital in addressing the shortage of members from this demographic group in
the academe. Ingram (2016) highlighted the willingness of African American men to join
doctoral programs and make their contributions in different academic programs. Yet, in
response to certain experiences and circumstances, the number of individuals from this
demographic segment with doctoral attainment remains at a worryingly low level. It is
critical to find a quick solution for the existing problem by first understanding the
challenges African American men experience as well as considering their views on the
most effective course of action that could be implemented to bridge the existing gaps
(Snyder et al., 2016). For instance, Ingram noted the majority of his respondents
indicated a need for mentoring strategies and additional academic support to provide
social support and encouragement for graduate students to successfully complete their
doctoral programs. The presence of critical social support often results in the adoption of
personal and professional relationships and self-navigational skills; such skills and
relationships are critical in enabling doctoral students to navigate the graduate school
setting. Ingram noted his respondents were able to accomplish doctoral degree attainment
as well as join the faculty after their studies as a result of harnessing the strong social and
psychological support around them. Nonetheless, it remains a fact that African
Americans continuously face microaggressions when pursuing their doctoral studies.
However, most successfully navigate around the underlying racial barriers. Altogether,
African American doctoral students continuously face challenges in their quest to attain
doctoral degrees in graduate schools and rely more on their personal skill set to navigate
racial barriers and successfully complete their doctoral programs.
Socioeconomic Status
The social environment is made up of the family, neighborhood, and other
surrounding communities that influence the decisions African American men make. As
such, the process of socialization based on academic achievement devalues the values,
beliefs, and norms of the young people in this demographic group. Therefore, academic
achievement enables young people to functionally adapt as members of society with
various roles and responsibilities. Forster (2019) stated social support commences with
the emotional support of family, friends, and academe. Forster also stated institutions of
learning as well as their stakeholders (i.e., parents, teachers, and neighborhoods)
significantly influence the social support that defines academic success among African
American boys. Hence, African American students often recognize self-socialization as a
critical factor of experience to maneuver through elementary, undergraduate, and
eventually the graduate school setting.
Forster (2019) observed that despite the fact that numerous kinds of social
interactions are crucial to the academic excellence of African American men, their
economic conditions directly affect their educational success as well. Economic
conditions, including the income of their guardians, bear significant influence on the level
of academic excellence of African American men in the United States. SES has been
linked closely to the educational accomplishments of African American men from their
formative academic years to graduate school (Snyder et al., 2016). Forster noted that SES
reflects the ranking of an individual or family on a hierarchy according to access to or
control over some combination of valued commodities such as power and wealth, as well
as social status. SES hinges on three major components of parental education, parental
income, and parental occupation. Forster also noted past studies showed African
American men from lower income backgrounds were more likely to underperform on
standardized tests as compared to their counterparts who came from a higher income
background and had parents with high educational backgrounds as well. According to
Snyder et al. (2016), with the diminishing group of high SES families, academic
opportunities continue to become slimmer and more strained. In essence, economic
hardships, higher levels of poverty, financial constraints, and unstable environments do
not necessarily restrict academic development in African American children. In other
words, African American parents who lead economically disadvantaged lives have been
closely linked with African American male achievement. What Forster tried to point out
is that high expectations and low SES do not necessarily translate into academic failure.
A high SES as well as low academic expectations does not necessarily denote a lack of
academic excellence either (Conley, Durlak, & Dickson, 2013). Still, Forster supported
the notion that it would be irresponsible to conclude that either high or low SES is the
primary variable that dictates educational achievement among African American male
Commencing from elementary levels through graduate school, minors from
higher SES families have performed better academically than minors from lower SES
families (Conley et al., 2013). Even though a high SES does not guarantee high academic
performance, studies have shown academic excellence is, to some extent, directly related
to a high SES of the parents as well as the educational level of the father and mother
(Conley et al., 2013). In essence, a son is likely to end up with high economic success as
a result of being brought up by a father who attained higher educational status as well as
belongs to a higher socioeconomic class. Moreover, a mother’s level of education is a
critical factor that can be used in revealing the success of a child from preschool to
institutions of higher learning. Therefore, the educational levels and SES of the parents
directly affect the level of performance of an African American man in a doctoral
program (Conley et al., 2013). A child from a well-off background will be able to access
private education, which is believed to be of greater quality, and go on to excel up to
graduate school. Lower SES has been linked to poverty and many people often assume it
blocks access to education. However, lower SES hardly prevents children from accessing
education but does have an impact on their performance. As such, many are unlikely to
proceed all the way to graduate school as a result of financial constraints. Nonetheless,
the scholarships and other financial aid they receive can trigger their acceleration all the
way to graduate school.
Parental Influence
B. Turner (2019) asserted that African American men tend to succeed in their
lives primarily as a result of significant levels of self-motivation and parental influence.
Additionally, individuals in parental roles often focus on providing access to quality
education to their children as a way of preparing them to cope with life and its
accompanying challenges, hence improving their lives through education (Conley et al.,
2013). According to research findings, a significant number of African American men,
specifically those who have loving, affectionate, and supportive relationships with their
parents, cope well in adulthood (Conley et al., 2013). Critical factors such as the
occupations of their parents as well as their educational levels directly influenced the
outcome of their sons’ academic performance, in addition to motivating them to further
their education and graduate from high school as well as from community college,
undergraduate, and graduate schools. Families in which parents lived together resulted in
their children making the decision to pursue their education to the highest level possible.
Further studies indicated that in as much as the two-parent family structure continues to
experience significant transformations, coping with challenges can be very tough for
African American men, including those being brought up in a single parent home. For
instance, a father who provides his child with a sense of support and security will be
stable psychologically, emotionally, and socially. Furthermore, maternal care for the
African American male child plays a significant role in defining future accomplishments.
Nonetheless, the parents of African American boys tend to face numerous challenges,
some of which are similar to those of single parents in raising their sons.
According to Conley et al. (2013), the rate of single African American fathers and
mothers raising their sons alone has soared sharply in recent times. But, even when the
family structure of a two-parent home gradually diminished, parents who were directly
involved in their children’s schooling did everything possible to provide them with the
best schooling possible. More importantly, African American men whose hands were
held by their “strong mothers” maneuvered through life’s barriers with much ease as
compared to those who were brought up without any parental care. As such, guardians
who adequately prepare their male children to understand the dynamics of race as well as
teach them critical techniques for how to implement strategic plans to get themselves out
of different stalemates in life and systems of the world empower their sons to overcome
barriers, intolerance, and prejudice. Some parents also empower their sons to excel
academically, socially, and economically partly as a result of their awareness about
racism and racially discriminatory practices in society and the marketplace. Hence,
guardians of African American sons must support, instruct, and defend their male
children by adopting parenting styles that encourage their sons to become responsible and
successful adults.
B. Turner (2019) further mentioned extreme parenting styles such as
authoritarian, permissive-indulgent, and uninvolved as being counterproductive given
that they have been linked to the demotivation of a child with regard to excelling in
education. According to B. Turner’s findings, adopting the authoritative style of
parenting is critical to guiding a child toward academic excellence, particularly among
African American men. Success is apparent as this parenting style provides African
American men with more support. B. Turner’s respondents asserted that African
American parents who used an authoritative style had boys who were motivated in
numerous prosocial activities at school, college, and graduate school in addition to
bearing greater aspirations across five waves of assessments. Therefore, children from
homes with authoritative parents bear a greater chance of attaining higher grades as
compared to those whose parents use alternative counterproductive parenting styles such
as an authoritarian or permissive parenting style. Regardless of the parenting style, it is
the intention and dream of each parent to raise their children into successful and
responsible individuals. African American men who experience family stability, love,
and discipline have the potential and motivation to study to the highest levels and
overcome all the challenges in their graduate schools. The parents of such individuals
often place high expectations for both their education and social lives, thus motivating
them to go all the way. As such, African American men who enjoy solid parental support
and are raised with focused and loving parents tend to record consistency and success in
their academic lives.
B. Turner (2019) further pointed out that to excel academically, self-motivation is
a critical ingredient that pushes one to pursue a doctoral degree successfully. He asserted
that whenever parents, the education system, and the community embrace and support the
educational goals for African American men, these students are empowered to excel in
academe as well as equipped with a skill set and the navigational capital to break every
barrier in any environment. Ultimately, African American men who triumph over social,
economic, and academic challenges experience greater success and point to the
competence and effectiveness of parenting style and communication strategies that
enabled them to excel academically and evolve into responsible members of society.
Critical Race Theory
In the United States, as well as various parts of the world, CRT is highly applied
in the educational realm to access the nature of racial inclusivity of different existing
educational programs. Racial disparities are a serious issue as evidenced by the limited
number of African Americans in doctoral programs. Consequently, there is a profound
difference in the number of African American men with doctorate degrees compared to
men from other races. The issue is caused by a wide range of factors, including positive
connections with others as well as the financial backgrounds of Black people. The focus
in this study was on exploring the perspectives of African American men toward doctoral
degrees together with the factors that limited them from pursuing doctoral degrees. The
exploration was sufficient in understanding the experiences of Black men in the
education realm. The study was designed to examine the elements that prompt African
American men to pursue doctorate degrees. The significance of the study is to understand
the relationships as well as the behaviors that foster the interest of African American men
to pursue doctorate degrees. Therefore, there are various aspects maneuvered through
reviewing different pieces of literature.
Education is vital in life, as recognized by most communities. However, the level
of education matters in different fields. For example, to acquire higher job positions, the
level of education is highly examined before recruitment. There has been a growing trend
of embracing higher education among African Americans. Though the numbers are still
significantly low, African American men have shown increased interest in doctoral
degree achievement. The doctoral degree is a celebratory achievement as very few people
in the African American community study to that level (Aud et al., 2012). As a result,
African American men who achieve doctoral degree levels are highly appreciated in
Different researchers have sought to gain insight regarding the significantly few
doctorate degrees among African Americans. McCallum (2017) indicated that the
inadequate diversity in institutions of higher learning is a leading cause of there being
few PhD holders among African American men. Diversity has been an increasingly
compelling subject in institutions of higher education. Scholars have also paid
significantly low attention to diversity, making it unclear what factors are involved in
recruiting Black students in doctoral studies (U.S. Department of Education, 2019). Thus,
among other factors, including financial issues, a lack of diversity embracement leads to
fewer African Americans enrolling in PhD programs.
There are consequences for the African American community that result from the
low enrollment in doctoral studies. For instance, the few postgraduate degrees among
African American men are concentrated in fields other than science-related causes (U.S.
Department of Education, 2019). Some of the impacts of the low level of education
among African Americans lead to lagging in security, prosperity, environment, health,
and quality of life. The small representation of the African Americans in higher education
is also highly linked to a lack of inclusion in the shaping of knowledge as well as the
dissemination of ideas in society. Therefore, although equality enrichment is highly
advocated for in society, low doctorate enrollment leads to cultural and ethnic-based
issues among the African American community.
Despite gains in the achievement of doctorate degrees among African American
men, the numbers are still nominal. According to data reported by the NCES (2004),
African American women have been outpacing their male counterparts in number in
institutions of higher learning. For instance, enrollment in institutions of higher education
among African American women was at 9% whereas male enrollment was at 5%. Upon
registration, most of the male students, up to 67%, drop out of undergraduate programs
(Conley et al., 2013). As a result, they do not qualify for PhD studies, resulting in
extremely few people enrolling in doctorate studies. The number of male African
Americans with PhDs has risen over the years for several reasons. Different studies have
also been conducted to create an understanding of the factors prompting African
American men to earn PhDs.
One of the elements that promotes the interest of African Americans toward the
acquisition of doctorate degrees is overcoming isolation as well as marginalization. The
issue of marginalization has cultivated a culture of negative attitudes toward doctoral
degrees among the general African American community (Conley et al., 2013). The
primary cause of marginalization is the failure to have representatives in the development
of the curriculum. As a result of isolation, African Americans are subjected to an
irrelevant curriculum as well as a hostile academic environment. During their
undergraduate studies, the prospects of African American men regarding pursuing further
education are often discouraged by insensitive tutors (Strayhorn &Terrel, 2007). When
instructors are selective regarding the cultures of minority students, learners are often
discouraged from continuing their studies. According to the experience of African
American men with PhDs, they somewhat felt a sense of mental inferiority as a result of
the lack of people to whom they could relate culturally in the classroom (Conley et al.,
However, efforts to overcome the “inferiority” linked to discrimination and
isolation have led to the success of male African American students at the PhD level
(Bowen & Rudenstine, 2014). A positive school environment is an excellent means of
increasing the number of African American male learners in the United States as well as
in other parts of the world (Strayhorn, 2010). According to Bowen and Rudenstine
(2014), learners feel secure in a learning institution where teachers are not discriminatory.
A sense of belonging promotes comprehension skills among learners and, more
importantly, peace of mind while in the learning institution. Academic resilience is
required to increase the number of male African American students in postgraduate
studies (Titcomb, 2014). If the students had a negative experience, they might not
continue with doctoral studies. However, if the students had a learning environment that
fostered them positively through cultural embracement, African American learners are
likely to pursue higher degrees in education.
African American male learners also require competent teachers with profound
expectations for their learning. When teachers are of high quality, there is an excellent
chance that learners will be successful in their academics. According to Pitre (2014), the
caliber of the teacher is highly emulated by the students, supporting the need to ensure
teachers are of high quality. The impact of competent teachers is expressed through
increased comprehension and understanding of materials learned in the classroom among
students. Experienced and diverse teachers will ensure there is equal participation among
the students in the school despite their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Teachers are also
mentors to African American learners, especially if they embrace their cultural
backgrounds efficiently (McCallum, 2017). The skills acquired when students are
studying lead to the development of cooperative relationships. Furthermore, academic
success is gained by the students, prompting them to continue with their studies.
African American male learners do well in their studies when cultural and social
capital are appropriately provided. Social capital is inclusive of the networks that lead to
achievement support, social norms, and information. The cultural capital aspect, on the
other hand, is acquired from the capacity to solve problems in the external environment
to survive. Cultural capital is fostered by the people who arise from the integration, which
is internal rather than external integration (Toldson, 2012). Therefore, the learning
process should be consistent in terms of behavior, cognition, and emotional
considerations. Through cultural and social capital in schools, African American learners
are in a better position to predict and also understand events as they occur. As a result,
the issue of anxiety among the minority group is diluted in the learning institutions. This
affirms that Black doctoral students also have the ability to compete effectively with
availability of resources in different learning institutions. The elimination of capital
limitations for Black students is therefore a projected positive improvement that will be
investigated in the main research work on whether it will help improve on the numbers.
African American leaners, instructors, and peers have been working together to promote
cultural and social capital in learning institutions (Shifrer, Pearson, Muller, & Wilkinson,
2015). Consequently, the number of male African Americans in doctoral studies is rising
slowly compared to previous decades.
Doctoral studies are profoundly affected by the financial capital of a student. The
issue of economic instability among minority groups in the United States and, more
importantly, African Americans, has led to insufficient access to education (Singer,
2008). Promoting African American students financially is an excellent way of fostering
educational attainment among members of the population. However, the perspective of
knowledge among male African American learners is the most significant determinant in
the matters of the financial capital (Clark, 2003). According to Bowen and Rudenstine
(2014), it is notable that most African Americans hail from low-income families, which
may be a limitation in their pursuit of different doctoral programs. Remarkably, the
positivity of the learners will lead to the understanding that the success and wealth of the
future surpass the cost of acquiring an education. Thus, understanding that the results of
receiving a doctoral education are greater than the cost will change the perspectives of
African American learners toward higher education. Financial capital in postgraduate
studies is highly associated with cultural capital (Titcomb, 2014). Education in society is
highly linked to wealth as well as success. Fostering such a cultural belief will encourage
African American learners to acquire doctoral knowledge regardless of the financial
hurdles. The current generation of African Americans are working toward changing the
culture of illiteracy. As such, young and middle-aged men are continuously investing in
gaining a doctoral degree in different universities (Travis & Leech, 2013). The main aim
of overlooking the cost of a PhD is to improve the life chances of the entire African
American community.
Influence from a counselor is also necessary for African American male students
to continue enrolling in doctoral degree programs. The provision of counselors in schools
is an essential strategy that should be provided by all learning institutions. Learners need
to understand the necessary information regarding advancement in education (Goto &
Martin, 2009). When leaners are enlightened, they develop interest in the various courses
offered at the doctoral level in institutions of higher learning. Knowledge of the
objectives is vital to foster the attainment of educational goals among African American
male learners (U.S. Department of Education, 2019). Furthermore, through counseling,
learners will understand the expected changes in the environment of higher learning.
Provision of advice to learners and family members ensures students are offered the right
support while they are pursuing doctorate studies. Coping with the new environment
requires emotional support, especially in institutions where cultural diversity is not fully
embraced (Travis & Leech, 2013). Therefore, counseling before enrolling in doctorate
courses is of great importance to ensure students are optimistic about the courses and
their experiences in learning institutions.
Support from family and parents is essential to motivate the pursuit of doctorate
degrees among students. Parental involvement is one of the main ways through which the
family can support students in higher learning (Strayhorn & Terrel, 2007). The
significance of parental involvement in education is to cultivate the educational success
of students. There is a need for students to be provided with the required resources to
promote the learning process. Parents should follow up on their children’s progress in
their courses to ensure they are performing as expected (McCallum, 2017). When parents
have high expectations for the educational performance of their children, positive
perceptions, as well as values, are imparted upon the learners. According to Strayhorn
(2008), African American students perform better in their studies with the active
participation of their parents. Furthermore, if students are at a particular social or cultural
risk, parental engagement creates resilience (Bowen & Rudenstine, 2014). The resilience
of students is especially gained through parental understanding and support while the
learners are pursuing their higher degrees in various courses. Williams and Bryan (2013)
also reinforced the insight by Warde (2014) that there is a need to ensure parents are
actively involved in higher learning to protect students’ welfare while in school.
Therefore, family and parental support among African American students in institutions
of higher education is of great importance. Male learners especially require an assurance
of protection by their parents to promote the pursuit of doctorate degrees.
Colaizzi’s Method
The Colaizzi method helps researchers with phenomenological data analysis as it
assists in capturing the aspects of a unified experience with an emphasis on the influence
of contextual factors. According to Colaizzi (1978), the elements of phenomenological
data analysis include dividing authentic data into units, transforming the units into
meanings expressed in phenomenological concepts, and converting the data to offer a
description of the experiences. To understand the culture and ethnic research, there is a
need to use Colaizzi’s method of phenomenological analysis. The technique is especially
crucial in understanding the experiences of African American men as doctorate students.
The qualitative aspect of the approach is necessary to ensure the perspective of the
researcher is somewhat overlooked and the experiences of the participants are instead
analyzed. For instance, as a researcher, there was a need to evaluate the causes of the low
representation of African Americans in institutions of higher learning. The evaluation
was based on the experiences of the students who had already pursued a PhD as well as
those who were still in the process of academic attainment. Such an exploration was
essential as it was designed to reveal unavailable insights as well as those that have not
been covered in different research studies.
The researcher expected that African American male students who had completed
their doctorate studies or those who were pursuing a doctoral degree would be open to
sharing the factors hindering Blacks from pursuing higher education. The data analysis
provided insight into the issues that have remained a stumbling block to African
Americans; thus, policymakers and stakeholders can use the information for the
formulation and implementation of appropriate policies in the education sector.
The researcher in this phenomenological study had to transcend or suspend past
knowledge and experience to comprehend the phenomenon of why African American
students pursuing doctorate studies are fewer at a deeper level. The Colaizzi method
establishes bracketing as a procedure of setting aside the beliefs, feelings, and perceptions
of individuals so they can welcome the phenomenon. Bracketing required the researcher
to suspend judgment regarding the natural world and instead focus on evidence rather
than assumptions, opinions, thoughts, and presuppositions concerning the topic of study.
Bracketing is useful as it helps eliminate the potential for preconceived understandings to
interfere with the analysis of the findings. The data analysis established the need to
introduce a conducive environment that will build and maintain the trust for African
American PhD students at predominantly White institutions.
The primary focus in this study was on the main factors that can attract Black
students to pursue doctoral degrees. For example, although the doctorate may incur some
costs, the perspectives of the learners and their families are what determine whether they
will enroll in doctorate courses or not (Strayhorn & Terrell, 2007). The cultural belief that
associates prosperity with education is one of the drivers of a positive perspective
regarding doctorate education. As a result, instead of focusing on the incurred amount,
African American men focus on the future prosperity and success associated with the
The study also contained a focus on the positivity drawn from the general learning
environment and how it may affect Black students’ decisions to enroll in doctoral
programs. For example, with competent teachers who are also diverse, cultural
embracement and equality can be achieved in the classroom. African American male
learners, on the other hand, relate to the materials and content taught in the school (Pitre,
2014). The inclusion of the students despite their backgrounds is an element that fosters a
thirst for more education. As such, the experience causes them to enroll in doctorate
Colaizzi’s method of analyzing the main reason there are few African Americans
with doctorate courses was highly applicable in the current study. As there are few
African American male learners, there is a need to advocate for strategies that can
encourage more Black students to undertake doctoral programs. Such inclusion is
essential to overcome the isolation and discrimination felt by Black students in
institutions of higher learning. Once Black male PhD holders are involved in academic
management, future Black students will no longer be exposed to an irrelevant curriculum
(Edward & Welch, 2011). Furthermore, there will be a source of motivation to other
students regarding enrolling in doctorate courses. Being taught by tutors who can relate to
the students at a cultural level is an essential element of educational success among
African Americans (Travis & Leech, 2013).
The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of African
American men who earned doctoral degrees to obtain an understanding of some of the
activities implemented by leaders that motivated them to pursue a higher education. The
research study was designed to identify factors the participants perceived as barriers as
well as those that provided opportunities for success. This study is important because it is
well established that those individuals receiving doctoral degrees have additional
opportunities to increase their SES beyond that of individuals who have only received
undergraduate degrees and even far more than those who have not attended college at all
(NCES, 2012). Additionally, individuals with doctoral degrees are apt to become leaders
themselves and enhance the SES of others and their families as those who have received
college degrees are more likely to see their family members strive to achieve a college
education (NCES, 2007b).
Research Design
Though there are many approaches that can be used to investigate and analyze
data, the most effective method for gaining the lived experiences of individuals is a
qualitative approach using the phenomenological design and process (Forster, 2019). One
of the main reasons for using a phenomenological qualitative method is because a vast
amount of the literature contains quantitative studies and the current study required
looking into the lived experiences of individuals, specifically African American men who
have been successful in receiving doctoral degrees. Furthermore, quantitative processes
for investigating leadership have not provided significant information to understand how
leadership operates in real-world situations nor in situations that actually influence
practice (Klenke, 2016). The preferred qualitative phenomenological method was well
described by Creswell (2014) as he stated:
Phenomenological research is a design of inquiry coming from philosophy and
psychology in which the research describes the lived experiences of individuals
about a phenomenon as described by participants. The description culminates in
the essence of the experiences for several individuals who have all experienced
the phenomenon. (p. 14)
As the phenomenon was African American men and their representation among
doctoral degree recipients, investigating the lived experiences and actions of African
American men who achieved these degrees was the most realistic method of exploration
and examination. Additionally, Gläser and Laudel (2013) indicated the qualitative
method is an appropriate way to identify “causal mechanisms.” To identify why and how
these individuals were successful in pursuing doctoral degrees and the leadership
activities that may have motivated them, a qualitative approach appeared to be a suitable
approach and design for this research study.
In this qualitative phenomenological study, the researcher investigated the
perceptions of the participants using one-on-one interviews. In addition, the researcher
maintained a journal to keep track of any additional information or artifacts introduced
during the investigative procedure such as nonverbal observations and the researcher’s
reflections. In-depth descriptions and analyses of the participants’ lived experiences and
perceptions revealed their perceptions of the motivational impact, barriers, and other
activities exhibited or performed by leaders that may have had an impact on their
decision and success to attain a doctoral degree.
Research Questions
A qualitative phenomenological research design was used to investigate the
overarching research questions: What are the various activities that might be
implemented by leaders to increase the number of African American men completing
doctoral degrees? What types of activities can be implemented to encourage African
American men to become more motivated to seek a higher degree and encourage others
to do likewise? The selected methodology was intended to yield rich and thick data to
help address these important research questions.
For this study, the sample size was 10 individuals who fit the following criteria:
(a) identified as an African American man, (b) attained a doctoral degree, and (c) earned
their doctoral degree within the last 15 years. These individuals were interviewed in a
one-on-one format via telephone.
The research instrumentation used for collecting data for this study was individual
interviews guided by a few general demographic questions to obtain the characteristics of
the sample group (Part I) and a predetermined set of open-ended interview questions
(Part II). This method of collecting data enabled the researcher to ask the participants the
same questions to ensure consistency. This consistency also allowed for increased
reliability while collecting rich and thick data pertaining to the phenomenon (Robson &
McCartan, 2016). The two-part instrument can be found in Appendix A. The general
demographic items collected were age group, professional field, and doctoral degree type
and year completed. The open-ended questions used for the one-on-one interviews were
as follows:
1. What were some of the factors that actually motivated you to attend graduate
school and to earn a doctoral degree, and in looking back do you think there
were other initiatives that could have provided additional motivation for you
during the decision-making process?
2. Were there any specific ethnicity issues, under the control of leadership
(socially and professionally), that because of being an African American man
may have had a positive or negative impact on your decision to pursue a
doctoral degree? If so, would you please elaborate?
3. What activity, legal initiative, or provision provided by school leadership or
governmental agency would you say had the greatest impact on you being
successful in accomplishing your doctoral degree?
4. What educational institutional resources did you find most effective when
trying to attain your doctoral degree that leaders should be aware of for future
5. What are some of the challenges you would inform leadership to be concerned
with when trying to motivate African American men to pursue a doctoral
6. Were there any specific support groups, special activities, or other types of
motivational activities that influenced you to pursue and earn a doctoral
degree? If yes, please share some of this information.
7. What activities or barriers under leadership control do you perceive might
have the largest negative impact on African American men achieving doctoral
8. From your lived experience, what types of activities do you think leaders
might implement to increase the number of African American men who would
pursue and complete doctoral degrees?
9. From your experience, are there any other perceptions or ideas you would like
to share that you think leaders should be aware of when trying to encourage
African American men to pursue and succeed in obtaining a doctoral degree?
If yes, please share your observations and ideas.
Data Collection
Upon receiving approval from the dissertation committee and Institutional
Review Board (IRB), the researcher employed the purposive sampling method to invite
and select individuals from the researcher’s personal network of professionals using
personal contact information. To achieve the required sample size, the snowball sampling
method was also used during which participants were asked to make referrals of others
from their own personal professional networks who met the selection criteria. No
invitations or any contact related to this study were issued using the communication
channels of the potential participants’ places of employment. No participants were
interviewed in their places of employment unless they had the personal authority to do so
based on their position within their organizations. The researcher maintained a reflexive
journal throughout the interview process to record and collect any additional information
offered. The one-on-one interviews and the researcher’s maintenance of a journal
provided for triangulation of the data, which added to the validity of the study.
After identifying potential participants using the established selection criteria (i.e.,
identified as an African American man, obtained a doctoral degree, and obtained a
doctoral degree within the past 15 years), the researcher reached out to these individuals
with an invitation to participate in the study. Invitations were issued personally or
through personal email using the script/message template found in Appendix B. This
message provided information regarding the study’s title, purpose, participation criteria,
and participants’ right to privacy and confidentiality. No study related communications
were done using any of the communication channels at the potential participants’ places
of employment.
Those individuals who expressed interest and agreed to participate in this study
were provided with a copy of the informed consent letter (see Appendix C). The
researcher was available to review and answer any questions pertaining to their rights as a
participant, how their information would be used, and their privacy and confidentiality as
outlined in the letter of informed consent.
When individuals signed and returned to the researcher their consent forms, a date
and time were established for a one-on-one interview. The researcher ensured the
interviews occurred in a setting that was at the convenience and comfort level of the
participants, and took precautions to protect the privacy of the participants and their
information. The researcher ensured that as she conducted all interviews over the
telephone, she was doing so at a private location behind closed doors and requested that
the participant do the same on his end. Whether participants chose to do so was at their
prerogative as the researcher did her due diligence through informed consent and verbal
The interviews occurred during a 2- to 3-week period to keep the narrative fresh
and current. The interviews were audio recorded and then later transcribed by the
researcher. At the beginning of each interview, the researcher asked for participants’ oral
consent again as a reminder of their rights.
The validity of the data was an important focus of the researcher to ensure clarity
and quality of transferable outcomes. Preventing the intervention of any type of
researcher bias was an ongoing concern. The researcher remained aware of the
importance of understanding subjectivity in a qualitative study. Though the researcher
was of a different gender than the reference group being investigated, because the
researcher was also African American, the possibility of reflexivity still needed to be
considered. Because there are so many ways the researcher could affect the study through
data collection and analysis, being aware of reflexivity is very important (Creswell,
2012). The researcher did so through the use of the reflexive journal during data
Data Analysis
Once the interviews were completed and all data were collected, the analysis
began. To ensure reliable procedures, the Moustakas approach was used to identify when
personal interest was encouraged by the momentum for phenomenological inquiry
(Moustakas, 1994). Additionally, using the Moustakas approach to data analysis provided
the researcher with a structure and process to follow during qualitative data analysis.
During this preparatory process, data are usually coded, classified, and categorized.
Though there are several steps in analyzing qualitative data, they still need to go through
the process of coding. Coding is one of the most significant steps in making sense of
textual data (Basit, 2003).
Coding is an integral part of organizing qualitative data and can be defined as
reducing the data down to segments and then giving the segments names (Creswell,
2012). The codes then become a core element to the qualitative study as they can be used
and combined to create themes and summaries (Creswell, 2012). This is a central
function of the organization of data. Once codes are created, they can then be organized.
Once a main category is created or open coded (Creswell, 2012), smaller codes and
categories can stem from this main coding through a process known as axial coding
(Creswell, 2012).
Coding is an important component of organizing and sorting qualitative data
because asking open-ended questions provides researchers with more insight than simply
having numerical data. Coding is necessary with open-ended questions because they yield
numerous responses. Hence, coding becomes helpful in labeling and organizing the
collected qualitative data to identify different themes and the relationships between them
(Creswell, 2012).
Colaizzi’s method is a seven-step process for descriptive phenomenological data
analysis that uses a method to extract, organize, and analyze a narrative dataset (Emami
Sigaroudi, Ghiyasvandian, & Nikbakht Nasabadi, 2016). The technique was a great
support to the information acquired from reviewing different works of literature (Edward
& Welch, 2011). The method is both robust and rigorous as it investigates beyond the
perspective of the researcher. As a result, the data presented and the conclusions, which
are drawn upon the completion of the research, are both reliable and credible (Wirihana
et al., 2018). The method also creates an opportunity to offer precise information and
The phenomenological method enables the researcher to ask open-ended
questions to participants and analyze the data to identify emerging themes. For example,
the barriers to access a doctorate create insights about the absent factors that promote
access to PhD education among male African American students. Furthermore, the
factors that encourage accessibility of education are a significant theme that shows the
strengths of African American communities. The ideas are necessary to identify the
available gaps in knowledge among the male African American community.
Ethics and Confidentiality
The informed consent letter/form (Appendix C) was provided to the participants
and each participant was required to read and sign an informed consent form in order to
participate in the study. No interviews were conducted without a signed consent form.
The information in the informed consent form made it clear to each participant that the
process was strictly voluntary and that at any point during the process they could
terminate their participation without explanation and without fear of their relationship
with the researcher being negatively affected. They were informed that their responses
and perceptions would be private and confidential as no personal identifiers would be
recorded. Only codes and aliases were used to keep track of transcripts from the
interviews. The study’s write up and reporting only used participant codes or aliases. No
names or other individual identifiers were used to protect the identities of participants. In
addition, all research data, files, recordings, notes, dates, and times are saved
electronically in the researcher’s computer under a special password known to only the
researcher to control access. The researcher is the only one with access to this material
and the material will be secured and safeguarded for a period of 3 years following the
completion of the study; after this period passes, all study related materials will be
destroyed and purged from the computer.
In this chapter, the researcher describes the qualitative analysis of the data,
including practical steps involved in the analysis. In the analysis phase, the researcher
analyzed the data into themes, which are described individually. The researcher also
conveys how the themes overlap. The phenomenological data analysis was conducted
using Colaizzi’s (1978) seven-step process. Colaizzi’s strategy illuminated the data by
helping to formulate significant statements and themes.
Restatement of Purpose
The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of African
American men who earned doctoral degrees to obtain an understanding of some of the
activities implemented by leaders that motivated them to pursue a higher education. The
goal was to gather in-depth information to assist and inform professional and community
leadership of the practices and strategies they can use to motivate African American men
in their pursuit of doctoral degrees through gaining a better understanding of this
population and their needs. The findings from this study are presented in this chapter in
individual participant profiles. The significant themes that emerged from the data
collection are presented with supporting quotes from the interviews. The two research
questions addressed within this study were:
1. What are the various activities that might be implemented by leaders to
increase the completion rates of African Americans men receiving doctoral
2. What types of activities can be implemented to encourage African American
men to become more motivated to seek a higher degree and encourage others
to do likewise?
Data Analysis Process
The data analysis process entailed conducting an analytical procedure of the data
collected and transcripts being summarized as follows. Telephone interviews were
conducted using questions that were pre-approved by the IRB. There were nine questions
for participants to answer freely and share their experiences using their own words. Each
interview lasted from 40 to 45 minutes. The level of data saturation was determined by
the researcher. Ten participants were a part of the study. The transcriptions were double
checked by the researcher (Colaizzi, 1978).
The following steps represent Colaizzi’s process for phenomenological data
analysis (Sanders, 2003; Speziale & Carpenter, 2007):
1. All participant transcripts were read and then re-read to obtain a general
consensus about the content.
2. For each transcript, the analytical process enabled the researcher to take a
more linear look and capture significant statements that pertained to the
phenomenon. These statements were written down on a separate sheet of
paper noting page and line numbers.
3. Meanings were formulated from these significant statements.
4. The formulated meanings were then sorted into patterns, clusters of themes,
and themes.
5. The findings were joined into exhaustive descriptions of the phenomenon
under study.
6. The fundamental structure of the phenomenon was described.
7. Validation of the findings was sought from the research participants to
compare the researcher’s descriptive results with their experiences.
Ten African American men participated in this study (see Table 1). All had
graduated with a doctoral degree within the last 15 years. Six participants earned a
Doctor of Education (EdD), two participants earned a Doctor of Business Administration
(DBA), one participant earned a Juris Doctorate (JD), and one participant earned a
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Half of the participants were between the ages of 31 and 50
and the other half were between the ages of 51 and 65. A commonality was that over half
of the participants were either former or active members of the military. The current
professional field for the participants was divided in to four categories: (a) educator, (b)
ministry, (c) social work, and (d) technology/science. One participant held the position of
an engineer, five were educators, two were ministers, one participant was employed in
technology sales, and one participant was employed within the social work field.
Table 1
Participant Demographics
Age Professional
Degree Major Graduation
1 51-65 Educator EdD Organizational
2019 No
2 51-65 Educator EdD Organizational
2017 Yes
3 31-40 Technology DBA Information technology 2017 Yes
4 41-50 Social worker EdD Organizational
2019 No
5 51-65 Educator EdD Counseling &
2018 Yes
6 51-65 Educator EdD Organizational
2015 Yes
7 31-40 Engineer PhD Industrial engineering 2009 No
8 31-40 Minister JD Law 2014 Yes
9 31-40 Minister DBA Leadership 2017 Yes
10 51-65 Educator EdD Leadership 2016 Yes
Individual Participant Profiles
The following are descriptions of the 10 men who participated in the study and
the main themes that echoed from their interviews. All 10 participants had graduated with
doctoral degrees. Each participant was assigned an alias by the researcher.
Participant 1 was between the ages of 51 and 65 and received his EdD with an
emphasis in organizational leadership in 2019. Participant 1 was an educator in an innercity
school system and worked directly with African Americans. He also started a
program that was helping add to the research about African American studies. He was
inspired while getting his master’s degree by a conversation with a member of the
faculty, after which he decided to pursue his doctorate in education. Participant 1
described his mentor as “a leader that cared.” The relationship between Participant 1 and
this faculty member provided support and guidance academically, personally, and
professionally, which ultimately led to his success during his doctoral pursuit.
Participant 2 was between the ages of 51 and 65 and received his EdD with an
emphasis in organizational leadership in 2017. Participant 2 was an educator and retired
military member. His education was financed by the GI Bill that is funded by the U.S.
government. He was inspired to complete his doctoral degree to set an example for his
children. Participant 2 stated, “Family is first and I have to set an example for my
family.” Participant 2 was the first in his family to earn a doctoral degree. He believed
knowledge is power, but more importantly, “applied knowledge is power,” and he vowed
daily to instill this idea in his students and children. Setting an example for those he felt
he mentored from afar was important to Participant 2 as well. He stated, “You never
know who is watching, as an African American man you always have to behave as a
mentor.” Participant 2 was a part of a cohort (group of students) of African American
men who were also pursuing a doctoral degree. Participant 2 was happy to be a part of the
cohort and said the experience was very helpful and kept him motivated throughout the
process. His cohort was a safe space for him to vent, which at times in his opinion was a
means of “therapy.”
Participant 3 was between the ages of 31 and 40 and received his DBA with an
emphasis in information technology in 2017. He currently worked in technology sales
and was a member of the military. His education was financed by the GI Bill that is
funded by the U.S. government. Participant 3 was also the first in his family to earn a
doctoral degree. He felt he needed to fulfill an obligation to his children by becoming a
doctor. Participant 3 had always had a passion to do something different, stating, “The
world sees Black men as only athletes or musicians, and quite frankly there are more
Black doctors in the world than there are Black musicians and Black athletes.” This selfimposed
passion pushed Participant 3 to pursue a doctoral degree even more
Participant 4 was between the ages of 31 and 40 and received his EdD with an
emphasis in organizational leadership in 2019. He was in the field of social work. He was
inspired by a faculty member in his undergraduate degree journey. The leadership was
profound during his doctoral process. He stated, “My chair was amazing and pushed me
to do well.” He also had a great support system through his relationship with his best
friend who was also pursuing his doctoral degree. Participant 4 was very clear that “it
was imperative that I prayed throughout this process.” Also, he saw being an example for
other African Americans as very important.
Participant 5 was between the ages of 51 and 65 and received his EdD with an
emphasis in counseling and psychology in 2018. He was in education within the training
and development field and a member of the military. His education was financed by the
GI Bill that is funded by the U.S. government. He was inspired by an “auspicious
network of people,” he was in ministry, and in his thought process, “holding a doctoral
degree enhances my credentials as a minister.” Participant 5 found solace in prayer time
during his doctoral process. Also, he was inspired while working within his cohort of
African Americans to do his best in his doctoral program. He stated, “The cohort
provided support for us and by us.”
Participant 6 was between the ages of 51 and 65 and received his EdD with an
emphasis in organizational leadership in 2015. He was an educator and retired from the
military. His education was financed by the GI Bill that is funded by the U.S.
government. He was inspired by family and stated, “My grandmother and Dr. Martin
Luther King motivated me, my grandmother always spoke highly of education.”
Participant 6 spoke of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 always being at the forefront of why
he wanted to pursue his doctoral degree. He stated, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made a
way for me to become educationally whole.” Participant 6 was passionate about teaching
African Americans at the elementary level, as he believed education at an early age is
imperative. Participant 6 stated, “African Americans need to keep kicking doors down,
and always set an example.”
Participant 7 was between the ages of 31 and 40 and received his PhD with an
emphasis in engineering in 2009. He was an industrial engineer. He was the second
person in his family to graduate with a doctoral degree. He was motivated by family and
was the only African American man in his doctoral program. Participant 7 stated, “Often
times I felt like the class looked to me to represent the entire African American race.”
Participant 7 grew up in a multiracial home, which in his opinion prepared him for often
being the only African American man in the room. Participant 7 was recruited by the
McKnight Fellowship program for engineers and the program provided financial support
for his entire doctoral journey. The leadership and mentors within that program placed
great emphasis on grooming the students in the program to become great engineers.
Participant 7 described the process of completing a PhD in engineering as “brutal and you
will come out with scars, but those scars will help you in life.” Participant 7 felt there was
a greater need for African American male mentors than ever, stating, “African Americans
need a spark ignited to attract them towards Science, Technology, and STEM.”
Participant 7 was on a quest to help ignite that fire. He had set an example by receiving
the Black Engineer of the Year in 2019.
Participant 8 was between the ages of 31 and 40 and received his JD in 2014. He
currently was a minister in the military. His education was financed by the GI Bill that is
funded by the U.S. government. Participant 8 was inspired to pursue his doctorate degree
by the future family he aspired to have one day. Participant 8 was a true believer that
education is the key to success. He stated, “A Juris Doctorate gives me a seat at the table
and allows me to order what I want.” This was the analogy he used to describe having
access to a number of things in life via an education. Participant 8 stated, “Leadership
had no role in my success as a doctoral student.” He received minimal support from the
Black Student Association. His church, his faith, and the people from his church were the
most motivating during his process of obtaining a doctoral degree. He stated, “A lot of
times we don’t know, what we don’t know,” and with that being said, he believed people
really did not know how to support him or understand why he was on this journey.
Participant 8 was a firm believer in educating African American men starting at the
elementary level and providing them with mentors who look like them. Participant 8
believed this would assist them if they chose to pursue a doctoral degree.
Participant 9 was between the ages of 31 and 40 and received his DBA with an
emphasis in leadership in 2017. He was an educator and a minister. He was a firm
believer in God and stated, “A pastor in Chicago said to me that I would be a doctor one
day.” He was very serious about fulfilling that prophecy, and therefore he enrolled in
school to complete his doctorate. Participant 9 was met with adversity but had a very
strong personality and stated, “My teachers were not used to a student having an opinion
I guess.” The backlash of all this resulted in Participant 9 being kicked out of school three
times during his doctoral journey. Eventually, Participant 9 was proactive and discussed
his issues with the president of the university and was able to complete his doctoral
degree. Leadership was not an asset to his process, in his personal opinion. Participant 9
believed his faith in God allowed him to finish his doctoral degree.
Participant 10 was between the age of 51 and 65 and received his EdD with an
emphasis in organizational leadership in 2016. He was an educator and retired member of
the military. His education was financed by the GI Bill funded by the U.S. government.
Participant 10 had been an established educator and businessman for a number of years
before he was inspired to pursue a doctoral degree. Participant 10 stated, “I was already
successful and had my mind set on continuing to educate people about leadership, but
this degree will help me become more impactful.” Before he took a step in the direction
of pursuing this rigorous degree, he consulted with his close network of friends about
enrolling in a higher education institution. He stated, “My network of friends were very
supportive and made me aware that they would hold me accountable.” Participant 10 had
joined a cohort of African American men who were in the doctoral program at the
university he attended, and in that cohort Participant 10 stated, “We were our brother’s
Five themes were discovered during the process of data analysis. Transcribed
recordings were used to capture pertinent information from the participants as a means to
ensure consistency within the themes captured. All of the questions asked required the
participants to contribute their own personal experiences and perceptions regarding
leadership activities, effective coping mechanisms, and suggestions for how future
leadership and community leaders can lead African American male doctoral degree
students. Bergin (2011) noted, “The analysis of interview data requires the selection of a
coding system, which helps the researcher to organize themes accordingly” (p. 8).
Identified patterns, trends and themes were separated and noted, as discussed
earlier in Colaizzi’s (1978) data analysis process. The narratives of the participants were
reviewed for connections between the themes, and related themes were merged into
clusters to establish and categorize each participant’s transcript. The coding system
provided assistance in identifying key words that formed recurrent themes. Themes
emerged from the researcher reading over each answer the participants provided and
establishing connections. An outline was created for every theme identified. Themes
were recognized and reviewed to ensure they had a direct connection to the research
topic. All of the transcripts were assessed via the same coding process and the material
supported the researcher in evaluating the documents. There were a number of
similarities in the transcriptions and it was important for the researcher to review the
documents to confirm the context was precise with usage. Colaizzi’s method of data
analysis ensured the credibility and reliability of the results. The method allowed the
researcher to use a descriptive phenomenological approach that garnered a clear and
logical process through which the fundamental structure of African American men’s
lived experiences could be explored (Colaizzi, 1978).
Emergent Themes
The five themes that emerged to reflect the experiences of 10 African American
men who had completed a doctoral degree were (a) impact of self-established cohorts, (b)
impact of mentors and the military, (c) impact of family, (d) impact of spirituality, and (e)
impact of a lack of leadership (see Figure 1). In reviewing the research, important words
such as “family,” “cohorts,” and “lack of leadership” were used often as well as the
mention of the mentoring program Black Student Association.
Figure 1. Theme analysis.
Impact of Self-Established Cohorts
Self-established cohorts were created by the African American men and their
peers as a means to support each other during the doctoral process. This theme was
discussed by four of the participants who were part of a self-established cohort while
pursuing their doctoral degrees. This theme was supported by the research mentioned in
Chapter 2; Titcomb (2014) stated a sense of belonging promotes comprehension skills
among learners, and, more importantly, peace of mind while in the learning institution.
Academic resilience is required to increase the number of male African American
students enrolled in postgraduate studies. Participant 5 stated “my entire cohort took the
same courses at the same time and took the comp exam and completed our final defense
around the same time, and within my cohort we encouraged each other and held each
other accountable.”
Participant 2 and his peers established a cohort and intended to take each class
together as they believed they were stronger together. Participant 2 stated, “The road to a
doctoral degree can be a lonely one; therefore, establishing cohorts kept us focused and
gave us a feeling of team.” Participant 2 was very direct in saying, “As African
Americans we are stronger together than apart.”
This strategy was helpful and allowed the group to grow successfully. The cohort
that was established by Participant 4 was not planned but happened by accident.
Participant 4 stated:
My best friend just happened to be pursuing a doctorate at the same time, which
made us establish a spontaneous cohort, that we started to take time out to study
together on a weekly bases, and other African Americans within the doctoral
program just started to join in with us.
Although the cohort was spontaneous, Participant 4 expressed “our cohort was needed
and made everyone support each other.” Researchers have declared that a positive school
environment is an excellent means of increasing the number of African American male
learners in the United States as well as in other parts of the world (Strayhorn, 2010).
Participant 3 shared:
Being a part of my cohort gave me a sense of belonging, during a difficult time
and being able to connect with someone who looked like me and was going
through the same thing that I was experiencing was amazing.
This theme indicated these African American men had the autonomy of
establishing a group of their peers who were on a similar doctoral journey. This theme
has not been noted in a significant amount of research. The self-established cohorts were
a commonality among participants. Everyone in the self-established cohorts knew they
needed to earn a doctorate degree to achieve their career goals, and a doctorate degree
would enable them to achieve different goals in life. Participant 5 insisted that the
following quote be included in the findings: “Freedom comes in letters AA, BA, MBA,
and PhD, having these letters behind our name as African American men keeps us on
course in life.” Many of the African American men echoed this in saying, “We were
stronger together our programs.”
Impact of Mentors and the Military
Recent literature supports that the current generation of African Americans is
working toward changing the culture of illiteracy. Travis and Leech (2013) shared that
young and middle-aged men are continuously investing in gaining a doctoral degree. A
number of the participants in the current study had a mentor who happened to be African
American. The commonality in having some form of guidance often resurfaced.
Participant 6 spoke of the mentor he found within an African American male professor,
stating, “My chair was a stern but direct man that took me under his wing and held me
accountable for completing my task within my program.” Participant 4 had a great
African American female mentor and described her as follows:
My mentor was instrumental in my decision to pursue a doctoral degree, she made
sure that during her final defense, I was present and allowed me to witness the
process of her pursuing her doctoral degree, so that I would be ready when it was
my turn.
Participant 1 stated, “Now that I have finished my doctoral degree, I realized that my
mentor was my professor who was a positive voice that pushed me and introduced me to
the doctoral degree program.” Participant 1 had just finished his master’s degree program
when his mentor presented him with a new journey to become a doctor. Participant 1
I had a lot of ideas about African American studies and I knew what I wanted to
study, my mentor explained to me what better way of getting my ideas out on
paper while pursuing my doctorate in education.
McCallum (2017) stated teachers are also mentors to African American learners
especially if they embrace a student’s cultural background efficiently.
Having positive relationships that started in the military and possessing a
disciplined lifestyle resonated throughout six of the 10 African American men’s
narratives. Participant 8 shed light on the fact that the military somewhat prepared him
for obtaining his JD, as he learned to practice self-discipline in the military, which
transferred to his doctoral journey. Participant 8 stated, “Not only did I have to dig and
remember my self-discipline, I had to remember that I embodied the discipline that
allowed to be an active member of the United States military.” Participant 6 shared:
Being a African American military man presented me with a number of
challenges, such as adjusting my attitude to the circumstances in front of me, that
also has helped in being an African American doctor, a number of times I have
had to shut my mouth because I have to respect leadership.
Participant 6 stated the U.S. military afforded him the ability financially to become a
doctor. Participant 2 stated, “The military helped me to navigate and reach in life and
grab what I want, and that’s exactly what I did during my doctoral process, I reached in
and grabbed it.”
Most of the participants stated they would have liked to have found a mentor
within leadership within the higher education institution to help incubate research
projects and network with once their doctoral programs was completed; unfortunately,
mentors were found in the military or outside the institution. This finding supports that
African American men need to have more rich mentorships with faculty and it would be
ideal if the mentor was an African American member of the leadership team. An
important element in understanding how to increase African American men’s
representation in doctoral programs would be to have plans in place to keep African
American men engaged once they become established in their doctoral program.
Leadership needs to know that having African American faculty in graduate programs
would be a great asset in terms of retaining doctoral students. According to Muñoz-
Dunbar and Stanton (1999), the presence of minority faculty members in graduate
programs is significant because these faculty members can provide support in
intimidating situations.
A fair number of participants were a part of the military and were either currently
retired or active, and their membership in the military enabled them to afford school
through the GI Bill funded by the U.S. government. The discipline to get through the
rigorous process that a doctoral program entails also came from their military service.
Participant 6 stated, “Being a part of the military gave me the attitude that quitting the
program was not an option, despite the hurdles that presented themselves throughout my
doctoral journey, it was essential that I finish what I started.”
Impact of Family
The significance of family was a theme represented in the interviews with all 10
participants, as they spoke of family initially during the process of deciding to pursue a
doctoral degree. Each African American male participant mentioned some form of family
support and described a number of reasons that pursuing a doctoral degree was important.
A combination of support systems in their families and friends promoted persistence
among each participant.
Participant 4 described a strong family support system as a pillar to his success.
He acknowledged:
Sometimes my family didn’t understand the process or details about the doctoral
program journey, but what they did understand was to always share a positive
word with me about how proud they were, that I was doing something that no one
in my blood line had ever accomplished.
Participant 2 shared:
I had the honor of sharing this doctoral degree process with my lovely wife,
myself and my wife worked on our doctoral degrees at the exact same time, so the
support system was all too real for the both of us.
A combination of family and friend support resonated throughout the narratives of
the participants. This emergent theme showed that more often than not, family, and
specifically children, was the key motivating factor that not only encouraged these
African American men to pursue their doctoral degree, but kept them motivated
throughout the process and helped them cope in the difficult times. Family being at the
forefront of a number of the answers by participants resonated because the participants
took great pride in being fathers and leading by example to teach their children how
important education is by continuing their education. Also, a number of the participants
made it a point to express how involved they were in their children’s lives. “According to
a study by the Centers for Disease Control (2018), Black fathers were the most involved
with children no matter if they lived with them or not” (Scott, 2018, para. 1). Participant
10 noted, “My family and children continues to keep me on my toes, and constantly push
me to keep creating the best version of myself, to not only make them proud, but to make
my race as whole shine.” Some other participant quotes to support this theme were as
My family was vital in making the choice to go back to school, I really wanted
them to see me accomplish this great goal of becoming a doctor. (Participant 10)
I am one of two doctors in my family, and it was important for me to not only
become a doctor, but to allow my small children to see their father walk across the
stage. (Participant 7)
I am doing this for my family name, I am the first in my family to become a
doctor and my family was in full support of that. (Participant 6)
Impact of Spirituality
All 10 participants had their own versions of a spiritual power and practices of
prayer throughout their doctoral journey that they tapped into at any given time. Over
half of the participants accredited their success to God for allowing them to prepare and
finish their doctorate. Participant 9 shared, “God is the only reason I pursued my
doctorate, I was on a spiritual journey at the time and God sent a pastor to tell me I will
become a doctor.” Participant 6 stated, “I have to give glory to God for allowing me the
opportunity to have become a doctor, it is only through the grace of God that I made it
through the process.” Participant 8 declared, “If it was not for God and my church
community praying for me and supporting me and keeping a positive upbeat gospel song
on my radio it would have been a different story for me during my doctoral journey.”
Participant 4 had great admiration for God throughout his doctoral journey, affirming:
I think I had the best prayer group in the world. They were flexible and
understanding if I needed prayer or needed to pray at any time, they would make
themselves available. I wouldn’t have made it without my prayer team and God
on my side.
Having a healthy spiritual life effectively helped these African American men
throughout their doctoral journeys. The theme resonated when the participants spoke
about challenging times in their doctoral programs. Prayer groups and prayer time were
methods the participants used to reduce stress and clear their minds. At the center of all
the participants’ conversations was a spiritual component that continued to surface when
they would begin to talk through the decision-making process of pursuing a doctoral
degree. More often than not the conversation would turn to God or prayer and how the
decision was ultimately something they prayed about. Many scholars have noted
spirituality is an inherent and central aspect of African American culture (Armstrong &
Crowther, 2002). Findings support that African American men have a grand idea about
holiness and take a grave interest in God and prayer.
Impact of a Lack of Leadership
The lack of a relationship with leadership throughout the doctoral process was a
theme echoed by six participants. These men consistently made reference that there was
minimal support from leadership and a lack of supportive instructors who would take the
time to get to know them and provide them with opportunities to grow as students and
professionals. Research has directly indicated the lack of leadership. Consequently,
African American men with PhDs often times feel a sense of mental inferiority as a result
of the lack of people to whom they can relate culturally in the classroom (Conley et al.,
2013). Participant 10 shared:
I had a professor that only wanted me to speak when spoken to, and not share my
thoughts. . . . Often times when I shared my opinion he would become combative.
. . . I am a successful businessman and I have a passion for leadership models, I
would almost always have to interject if a subject was not explained at great
length. . . . A number of times the professor would quickly go over profound
information such as the Myers-Briggs instrument, and I would raise my hand and
ask him to go more in-depth.
Through this quote it becomes clear that Participant 10 believed leadership should
involve empowering students.
Participant 9 recalled one professor who was not as friendly and would not take
the time to get to know any of the African American students in the class, but often asked
other students about their personal goals and aspirations. Participant 9 stated, “This
professor treated the African Americans in the class like we were his students but treated
others as if they were his colleagues.” As a result of the amount of attention the professor
paid to other students and not to African American students, Participant 9 stated, “I made
it a point to never take any classes he taught.”
Participant 1 felt it should have been important to the leadership at his institution
to support African Americans who were contemplating or pursuing any level of
education. He said he never experienced any support from leadership and nothing was
created to recruit or support African Americans on campus. Participant 1 shared, “There
should have been some form of encouragement or offering of groups to support us
throughout our marathon to our doctoral degree, and leadership at my institution never
provided that support.”
Participant 2 gave much gratitude to his dissertation chair, stating, “My chair was
a star in a dark place.” Having a positive relationship with his dissertation chair was an
essential factor in his success, because outside of that relationship, Participant 2 stated,
“My advisor was unresponsive and not really helpful, and when I reached out to upper
leadership the same unresponsiveness was repeated.”
The objective of the interview questions was to understand the participants’
perspectives regarding their experiences as African American men in doctoral programs
and to provide valued suggestions that will benefit current and future community leaders
and professionals. An additional objective was to provide a roadmap for African
American men who may be considering pursuing a doctoral degree. The process for
collecting data involved semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions to acquire
an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon. Based on the answers given by the
African American men, five themes emerged. Every theme highlighted the lived
experiences of these African American men related to the phenomenon of being an
African American man having gone through the journey of obtaining a doctoral degree.
Findings were consistent with CRT and opened up new possibilities for future research.
Past studies using CRT have shown African Americans lack resources and are faced with
inequities in society (Cintrón, 2010). Research conducted on the topic of the negative
experiences African Americans have experienced while pursuing a doctorate degree has
possibly discouraged other African Americans from pursuing a related path. Almost
every participant spoke to this in their responses about leadership being culturally
incompetent by not having more diversity and inclusion at their institutions of higher
education. Participant 2 echoed the response from many of the participants by declaring,
“The playing field is not leveled, and has not been for a long time at universities
regarding leadership being readily available for African American men.” Dixson and
Rosseau (2007) declared the significance of using representative voices of
underrepresented groups to learn about meaningful experiences regarding education
within their communities.
Chapter 4 presented a number of common themes but the feedback about
leadership and the lack thereof at higher education institutions was naturally the topic of
each interview. These 10 African American men in general had the mindset that for
themselves and their community, more consideration should be given to African
American men in higher education institutions. These men often mentioned in their
interviews that leadership needs to include input from African American men when
planning and developing programs and activities to meet their needs. The feeling of
isolation and the racially impactful incidents conveyed that participants were singled out
because their race, as often times members of leadership were unresponsive or were
opposed to what these men had to offer in the classroom setting. In addition, the
universities they attended never had any feeling of community. This lack of community
on a number of campuses pushed the participants to establish their own cohorts to ensure
other students of their race would do well in their doctoral journeys. The overall
consensus from these African American men was that accommodations from leadership
at the beginning of their doctoral process were lackluster to say the least. The participants
had the overall feeling that there could have been a more profound presence of African
American male faculty, especially regarding advisors. The participants expressed the
feeling that having more African American men or women in leadership at these higher
education institutions would level the playing field when problems and concerns
surfaced. If the leadership at higher education institutions would employ more African
American faculty and advisors, African American students could have someone on
campus with whom they could identify when facing difficult circumstances.
The researcher in this study used the Colaizzi (1978) method to conduct a
phenomenological qualitative analysis of the lived experiences of African American men
who earned doctoral degrees. The researcher used semi-structured interviews to gather
data relating to African American men’s graduate experiences and specifically their
interactions with leadership. In the interview process, nine questions were asked related
to the events, behaviors, and attitudes of each participant regarding his doctoral journey.
Each participant contributed to the development of the emerging themes of (a) impact of
self-established cohorts, (b) impact of mentors and the military, (c) impact of family, (d)
impact of spirituality, and (e) impact of a lack of leadership.
Of the responses obtained from the participants, there was consensus on a lack of
leadership within their higher education institutions. Improvements to address the lack of
leadership in these institutions included a greater presence of African Americans in
leadership to ensure faculty and advisors are more culturally diverse.
Discussion and Explanation of Findings
A number of answers surfaced to the question regarding the various activities that
might be implemented by leaders to increase the completion rates of African American
men receiving doctoral degrees. Based on the responses from many of the participants,
suggestions surfaced of activities leaders can implement to inspire African American men
to become more motivated to seek a higher degree and encourage others to do the same.
Five themes emerged during the interview process that contributed to the
participants remaining motivated during their doctoral programs and what activities could
have been implemented by leadership. Participants also provided suggestions that
leadership can implement to encourage African American male students in the process of
pursuing a doctoral degree. A qualitative, phenomenological study using semi-structured
interviews was implemented to examine two research questions related to this purpose.
Creswell (2012) stated that by engaging in discussion with participants in a natural
setting, qualitative research provides a comprehensive understanding and rich contextual
Review of the Study
The literature revealed that a vast number of individuals receive doctoral degrees
but there remains a shortage of representation by African American men (McGaskey,
Freeman, Guyton, Richmond, & Guyton, 2016). The premise is that an increased
presence of leadership may help increase the number of African American men who
graduate from doctoral programs, and based on the responses from many of the
participants in the current study, there are activities leaders can implement to inspire
African American men to become more motivated to seek a higher degree and encourage
others to do likewise. The presence of African American men on campus may result in
African American men feeling more comfortable with applying. The larger the presence
of African American men at an institution of higher education, the greater the chance for
other African American men to be in leadership at institutions of higher education. The
presence of African American men in leadership can potentially enhance the recruitment
and retention of both graduate and undergraduate students as well as increase the pool of
mentors for African American men. The researcher derived this theme by grouping the
common stories and experiences shared by the participants. Dixson and Rosseau (2007)
declared the significance of using representative voices of underrepresented groups to
learn about meaningful experiences regarding education within their communities.
Research Question 1
What are the various activities that might be implemented by leaders to increase
the number of African American men completing doctoral degrees?
The findings of this qualitative research showed that the need for mentors is vital.
According to the participants, having African American mentors who actively work with
students during the doctoral process would be beneficial to this population. In addition,
there is a need for diversity inclusive activities on college campuses that showcase
African American men who are accomplishing their goals (e.g., meet and greets on
campus where leadership is present and involved). Leaders of institutions of higher
education also need to recruit more African American men to serve as faculty. For
example, the human resources department of higher education institutions should
implement marketing job opportunities at more urban events such as the Black Women’s
Expo or Historically Black Colleges and Universities job fairs, where master’s degree
candidates for graduation will be available and ready to teach and take on potential
leadership roles in future. Also, they could host a virtual hiring event for African
American male faculty to apply and interview on the Internet. Byrd et al. (2010) shared
that data exist about minority students responding to role models who share specific
characteristics with them and who can identify with personal aspects that encompass their
experiences (p. 131). The research has shown inadequate diversity in institutions of
higher education is a leading cause of there being a lower number of PhD holders among
African American men (McCallum, 2017).
Activities exclusively developed by leadership to meet the needs of African
American men in doctoral degree programs can include providing more funding for
students who are a part of this population. For example, leaders could lobby for funding
for their institutions of higher education to receive money that will only be allocated for
African American men to complete the highest level of education; this gesture would
ultimately increase the number of African American men who not only apply for
admission to a doctoral program, but graduate. The research shows “African American
males comprise one-third of all doctoral students. Some have speculated on the enormous
impact an educational imbalance will create economically, politically, socially, and
personally within the African American community and the nation as a whole” (Cintrón,
2010, p. 12). The change that needs to be made is to address the lack of effort leadership
has taken to actively seek to increase the economic climate for African American male
doctoral recipients. The shortage of funding for education to this population alludes to an
underlying belief of CRT that most unequal structures in contemporary society might be
appropriately attributed to apathy rather than malice (Cintrón, 2010, p. 12).
Research Question 2
What types of activities can be implemented to encourage African American men
to become more motivated to seek a higher degree and encourage others to do likewise?
Findings showed it is imperative that young African American boys in elementary
school understand the importance of education through activities such as thinking
activities that will motivate them to see themselves in a number of professions. Mentor
summer camps can be used to address the issue of minimal numbers of mentors being
available in the African American community. Mentor summer camps can consist of
mentors being paired up with mentees who look like them and to whom they can relate
culturally. Participants were on one accord about giving back to youth and starting the
conversation about the importance of education. Participant 1 stated, “Each one teach one
is the most important direction to follow.” Cintrón (2010) found:
African American males’ perceptions regarding their higher education
experiences form the basis of current research in the area of African American
males in higher education. In relation to social support, however, many African
American males accredited their success to a strong network of family, friends,
mentors, instructors, religion, and fellow African American students. (p. 12)
In support of this idea, Edward and Welch (2011) shared that once African American
male PhD holders are involved in academic management, future African American
students will no longer be exposed to an irrelevant curriculum.
Other activities that may encourage African American men include better
marketing from those in leadership. Marketing about furthering education that is geared
toward African American men needs to be motivated by leadership roles that glorify
professions such as scientists, doctors, and lawyers, and less about athletes and
musicians. This marketing would have to be at the elementary level for African American
boys, allowing them the opportunity to identify with some African Americans in these
roles. Participant 3 declared, “In this world there are more African American male
doctors than African American male athletes and musicians, but that is not what is being
conveyed to young African American males.” In a phenomenological study, Levine
(2008) found students did not have any stereotypes on matters relating to school, but
highlighted major limitations as capital and minimal interest as the main causes of a lack
of interest in the pursuit of doctoral degrees in various schools. Leadership can encourage
this population in making them aware through marketing that capital and wealth are not
just obtained by a profession in the music industry and sports careers, but by encouraging
them to think outside their block or their neighbor, and this may allow a young African
American man to aspire to be more like what he can see on media outlets as a successful
African American man in the form of a chemist, doctor, pharmacist, or leader of an all-
African American board of directors of a major Fortune 500 corporation.
Limitations of the Study
Findings of the study are limited to the participants only and cannot be
generalized to the overall population as the participants for the study were individuals
who had earned a doctoral degree and the findings reflect their lived experiences. This
study involved a qualitative approach and the limitation on the findings is characteristic
of this type of research.
Recommendations for Future Research
This study involved the process of descriptive phenomenology to explore the
lived experiences of African American men who earned doctoral degrees. In
recommending future research, Colaizzi’s process should be used to provide an
exhaustive description help broaden the understanding of African American men’s
experiences through conducting these research studies. The first recommendation for
future research is to conduct a study with African American men at the master’s level to
understand why they have not pursued a doctoral degree. This future research can
potentially help reveal whether the reason for the lack of African American men
completing doctoral degrees is centered around leadership to get a more focused lens on
where the gap exists. The second recommendation for future research is to conduct a
study on how leadership is involved in the admissions process for African American men
applying for doctoral programs. The third recommendation is to conduct a study to
determine whether there is correlation between the marketing of leadership roles (e.g.,
dentists, doctors, and scientists) toward young African American men and African
American men seeking advanced degrees.
The data from this research will have long-term benefits for a better quality of
leadership, economics, and mentorship. This dissertation addressed the for leadership to
should recognize that exposure to motivating and stimulating educational environments
through mentorship beginning at the elementary level for African American boys is very
important. Once African American men are motivated through mentorship and mentors
are present at institutions of higher education, this may help in addressing the low
graduation rates for African American men. A push for like-minded mentors for African
American men quite possibly may have a long-term effect on the professional and
personal esteem of this population and their communities. In addition, economics is a
critical component when considering a valuable education. Funding for African
American education should be increased to enhance the long-term funding that can be
given to schools that are majority minority.
This study consisted of gathering information about the lived experiences and
perceptions of 10 African American men who were graduates of doctoral programs. The
qualitative phenomenological study provided findings that can be used to understand how
leaders can implement activities to motivate African American men to pursue a doctoral
degree and encourage other African American men to do the same. In addition, various
activities that might have been implemented by leaders to increase the completion rates
of African American men receiving doctoral degrees were studied . Findings from the
interviews provide leadership within higher institutions with a roadmap for how to recruit
and keep African American men enrolled and graduating from their institutions. For
example, leadership may decide to implement diversity initiatives that are inclusive of
African American men. Based on these findings, leadership may also decide to
implement a mentorship program for African American men on campus. This research
study should be used as the key to help recognize where African American men have not
been supported and start the conversation of how leadership can be better equipped to
address the different situations African American men may experience during their
doctoral process. Providing African American men with the added-value of mentorship
through leadership is a great asset for them to pass on to the next generation of African
American men.
Alston, G., Guy, B., & Campbell, D. (2017). Ready for the professoriate? The influence
of mentoring on career development for Black male graduate students in STEM.
Journal of African American Males in Education, 8(1), 45–66. Available at
Armstrong, T. D., & Crowther, M. R. (2002). Spirituality among older African
Americans. Journal of Adult Development, 9(1), 3–12.
Arroyo, A. T., Palmer, R. T., Maramba, D. C., & Louis, D. A. (2017). Supporting racially
diverse students at HBCUs: A student affairs perspective. Journal of Student
Affairs Research and Practice, 54(2), 150–162.
Aud, S., Hussar, W., Johnson, F., Kena, G., Roth, E., Manning, E., . . . Zhang, J. (2012).
The condition of education 2012 (NCES 2012-045). Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved
Avolio, B. M., Bass, B. M., & Jung, D. I. (1999). Re-examining the components of
transformational and transactional leadership using the Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 72(4),
Barrett, L., Ghezzi, R., & Satterfield, J. (2015). Jay Gatsby goes to college: Engaging atrisk
students. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 55(1), 11–17.
Basit, T. N. (2003). Manual or electronic? The role of coding in qualitative data analysis.
Educational Research, 45(2), 143–154.
Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and
managerial applications. New York, NY: The Free Press.
Berg, G. A. (2016). The dissertation process and mentor relationships for African
American and Latina/o students in an online program. American Journal of
Distance Education, 30(4), 225–236.
Bergin, M. (2011). NVivo 8 and consistency in data analysis: Reflecting on the use of a
qualitative data analysis program. Nurse Researcher, 18(3), 6–12.
Berry, N. (2018). A qualitative study measuring the success rates of African American
males at PASSAGES: An academic and support services program at Los Angeles
area community college (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest
Dissertations & Theses Global. (10931363)
Bowen, W. G., & Rudenstine, N. L. (2014). In pursuit of the PhD. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Breitenbach, E., Bernstein, J., Ayars, C. L., & Konecny, L. T. (2019). The influence of
family on doctoral student success. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 14,
Byrd, D., Razani, J., Suarez, P., Lafosse, J. M., Manly, J., & Attix, D. K. (2010).
Diversity Summit 2008: Challenges in the Recruitment and Retention of Ethnic
Minorities in Neuropsychology. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 24(8), 1279–
California Department of Education. (2016). Williams case and school facilities.
Retrieved from
Cintrón, H. (2010). Critical race theory as an analytical tool: African American male
success in doctoral education. Journal of College and Learning, 7(10).
Clark, A. B. (2003). Frequent buyer club participation patterns for African Americans,
Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Journal of
Hispanic Higher Education, 2(1), 60–72.
Colaizzi, P. F. (1978). Psychological research as the phenomenologist views it. In R.
Vale & M. King (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological alternatives for psychology
(pp. 48–71). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Conchas, G. Q. (2006). The color of success: Race and high-achieving urban youth. New
York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Conley, C. S., Durlak, J. A., & Dickson, D. A. (2013). An evaluative review of outcome
research on universal mental health promotion and prevention programs for
higher education students. Journal of American College Health, 61(5), 286–301.
Creswell, J. W. (2012). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five
approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods
approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Davis, D. R. (2016). The journey to the top: Stories on the intersection of race and gender
for African American women in academia and business. Journal of Research
Initiatives, 2(1), Article 4. Available at
Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical race theory: An introduction. New York,
NY: New York University Press.
Dixson, A. D., & Rousseau, C. K. (Eds.). (2007). Critical race theory in education: All
God’s children got a song. New York, NY: Routledge.
Edward, K., & Welch, T. (2011). The extension of Colaizzi’s method of
phenomenological enquiry. Contemporary Nurse, 39(2), 163–171.
Emami Sigaroudi, A., Ghiyasvandian, S., & Nikbakht Nasabadi, A. (2016).
Understanding doctoral nursing students’ experiences of blended learning: A
qualitative study. Acta Medica Iranica, 54(11), 743–749.
Everett, B., Rogers, R., Hummer, R., & Krueger, P. (2011). Trends in educational
attainment by race/ethnicity, nativity, and sex in the United States, 1989–2005.
Ethnic & Racial Studies, 34(9), 1543–1566.
Farmer, E. D., & Hope, W. C. (2015). Factors that influence African American male
retention and graduation: The case of Gateway University, a historically Black
college and university. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory &
Practice, 17(1), 2–17.
Fink, A. (2010). Conducting research literature reviews: From the Internet to paper (3rd
ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.
Ford, D. J. (2014). A grounded theory of the college experiences of African American
males in Black Greek-letter organizations (Doctoral dissertation). Available from
ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global. (3580583)
Forster, S. (2019). African American male student graduate success: An exploration of
self-efficacy, motivation, and persistence (Doctoral dissertation). Available from
ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global. (13905073)
Garden Swartz, L., & Rowe, A. (2001, March 1). Cross-cultural awareness. HR
Magazine, 46(3), 139. Retrieved from
George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2012). Understanding and managing organizational
behavior (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Gibbs, J. (1988). Young, Black, and male in America. New York, NY: Auburn House.
Gläser, J., & Laudel, G. (2013). Life with and without coding: Two methods for earlystage
data analysis in qualitative research aiming at causal explanations. Forum:
Qualitative Social Research, 14(2), Article 5.
Goto, S. T., & Martin, C. (2009). Psychology of success: Overcoming barriers to
pursuing further education. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 57(1),
Green, S. W. (2015). The influence of satisfaction among African American males on
community college choices (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest
Dissertations & Theses Global. (3700085)
Grollman, A. (2017, February 24). ‘Playing the game’ for Black grad students. Inside
Higher Ed. Retrieved from
Hayes, J. (2006). The differences between first-generation and non-first-generation
freshmen private college students on college adjustment (Doctoral dissertation).
Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (3220845)
Herzberg, F. (1959). The motivation to work. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Herzberg, F. (2003). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard
Business Review, 81(1), 86–97. Retrieved from
Hussar, W. J., & Bailey, T. M. (2013). Projections of education statistics to 2022 (NCES
2014-051). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Ingram, T. N. (2016). Realizing the dream: African American males’ narratives that
encouraged the pursuit of doctoral education. Journal of Research Initiatives,
2(1), 15. Available at
Jackson, J. H. (2011). An opportunity agenda for Black males. Ebony, 66(8), 110–111.
Jackson, T. D. (2016). The relationship between transformational leadership style and
employees’ perception of leadership success in higher education (Doctoral
dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
Janta, H., Lugosi, P., & Brown, L. (2012). Coping with loneliness: A netnographic study
of doctoral students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 38(4), 553–571.
Jenkins, R. (2016). A case study of an African American community’s perceptions of
problems in mathematics education (Doctoral dissertation). Available from
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (10006986)
Jenkins, T. S. (2006). Mr. Nigger: The challenges of educating Black males within
American society. Journal of Black Studies, 37, 127–155.
Jones, S. R. (2017). Creating our own stories and trusting our own voices: Midlife,
Black, female doctoral students navigating the crossroads of age, race and
gender (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Texas State University, San Marco,
Jury, M., Smeding, A., & Darnon, C. (2015). First-generation students’
underperformance at university: The impact of the function of selection. Frontiers
in Psychology, 6, Article 710.
Klenke, K. (2016). Qualitative research in the study of leadership (2nd ed.). Bingley,
UK: Emerald Group.
Kliebard, H. (1987). The struggle for the American curriculum, 1893–1958. New York,
NY: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Levine, K. D. (2008). A phenomenological study: Why African American males decline to
enroll in graduate level programs (Doctoral dissertation). Available from
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (3365620)
Longmire-Avital, B., & Miller-Dyce, C. (2015). Factors related to perceived status in the
campus community for first generation students at an HBCU. College Student
Journal, 49(3), 375–386.
McCallum, C. (2017). Giving back to the community: How African Americans envision
utilizing their PhD. The Journal of Negro Education, 86(2), 138–153.
McGaskey, F. G., Freeman, S., Jr., Guyton, C., Richmond, D., & Guyton, C. W. (2016).
The social support networks of Black males in higher education administration
doctoral programs: An exploratory study. Western Journal of Black Studies,
40(2), 141–158.
Mooring, Q. E. (2016). Recruitment, advising, and retention programs-Challenges and
solutions to the international problem of poor nursing student retention: A
narrative literature review. Nurse Education Today, 40, 204–208.
Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Muñoz-Dunbar, R., & Stanton, A. L. (1999). Ethnic diversity in clinical psychology:
Recruitment and admission practices among doctoral programs. Teaching of
Psychology, 26(4), 259–263.
Musu-Gillette, L., Robinson, J., McFarland, J., KewalRamani, A., Zhang, A., &
Wilkinson-Flicker, S. (2016). Status and trends in the education of racial and
ethnic groups 2016 (NCES 2016-007). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from
National Center for Education Statistics. (2004). Immediate college enrollment rates.
Retrieved September 13, 2015, from
National Center for Education Statistics. (2007a). The condition of education 2007
(NCES 2007-064). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2007b). Digest of educational statistics, higher
education general information survey (HEGIS). Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Digest of educational statistics, higher
education general information survey (HEGIS). Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Total fall enrollment in degree-granting
institutions, by level of student, sex, attendance status, and race/ethnicity:
Selected years, 1976 through 2010. Retrieved from
National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Immediate college enrollment rates.
Retrieved from
News & views: Good news! A record number of doctoral degrees awarded to African
Americans. (2005). The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 46, 11. Retrieved
Nottingham, S. L., Mazerolle, S. M., & Barrett, J. L. (2017). Effective characteristics of
formal mentoring relationships: The National Athletic Trainers’ Association
Foundation research mentor program. Athletic Training Education Journal, 12(4),
Nussbaum, K. B., & Chang, H. (2003). The quest for diversity in Christian higher
education: Building institutional governance capacity. Christian Higher
Education, 12(1/2), 5–19.
Okahana, H., & Zhou, E. (2018). Graduate enrollment and degrees: 2007 to 2017.
Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools.
Overton, K. C. (2018). Diversity in higher education: Positive motivational factors for
African Americans pursuing doctoral degrees to acquire tenured faculty positions
(Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
Owens, D., Lacey, K., Rawls, G., & Holbert- Quince, J. (2010). First-generation African
American male college students: Implications for career counselors. Career
Development Quarterly, 58(4), 291–300. /10.1002/j.2161-
Perry, S. P., Hardeman, R., Burke, S. E., Cunningham, B., Burgess, D. J., & van Ryn, M.
(2016). The impact of everyday discrimination and racial identity centrality on
African American medical student well-being: A report from the Medical Student
CHANGE Study. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 3(3), 519–526.
Peterson, R. S., & Behfar, K. J. (2005). Leadership as group regulation. In D. M. Messick
& R. M. Kramer (Eds.), The psychology of leadership: New perspectives and
research (pp. 143–162). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Pitre, C. C. (2014). Improving African American student outcomes: Understanding
educational achievement and strategies to close opportunity gaps. The Western
Journal of Black Studies, 38, 209–217.
Robinson, C. (2009). Kano on customers. The Journal for Quality and Participation,
32(2), 23–25, 38.
Robson, C., & McCartan, K. (2016). Real world research (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John
Wiley & Sons.
Ryan, C. L., & Bauman, K. (2016). Educational attainment in the United States: 2015.
Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
Sachau, D. A. (2007). Resurrecting the motivation-hygiene theory: Herzberg and the
positive psychology movement. Human Resources Development Review, 6(4),
Salvo, S. G., Shelton, K., & Welch, B. (2019). African American males learning online:
Promoting academic achievement in higher education. Online Learning, 23(1),
Sanders, C. (2003). Application of Colaizzi’s method: Interpretation of an auditable
decision trail by a novice researcher. Contemporary Nurse Journal, 14(3), 292–
Schumacher, R. M., Jr. (2015). What attracts students to a small, private university?
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Bowling Green State University, Bowling
Green, OH.
Scott, C. (2018, June 16). CDC report on fathers’ involvement proves that Black dads are
most involved and the Pew Research Center reports that the role of the American
dad is changing [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Shifrer, D., Pearson, J., Muller, C., & Wilkinson, L. (2015). College-going benefits of
high school sports participation: Race and gender differences over three decades.
Youth and Society, 47(3), 295–318.×12461656
Singer, J. N. (2008). Benefits and detriments of African American male athletes’
participation in a big-time college football program. International Review of
Sociology of Sport, 43, 399–408.
Snyder, T. D., de Brey, C., & Dillow, S. A. (2016). Digest of education statistics 2014
(NCES 2016-006). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics,
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
Solorzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial
microaggressions, and campus racial climate: The experiences of African
American college students. The Journal of Negro Education, 69(1/2), 60–73.
Speziale, H. J., & Carpenter, D. R. (2007). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing
the humanistic imperative (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams and
Stephan, W. G. (1978). School desegregation: An evaluation of predictions made in
Brown v. Board of Education. Psychological Bulletin, 85(2), 217–238.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2008). Fittin’ in: Do diverse interactions with peers affect sense of
belonging for Black men at predominantly White institutions? NASPAJournal, 45,
Strayhorn, T. L. (2010). The role of schools, families, and psychological variables on
math achievement of Black high school students. The High School Journal, 93(4),
Strayhorn, T. L., & Terrell, M. C. (2007). Mentoring and satisfaction with college for
Black students. Negro Educational Review, 58, 69–83.
Sunstein, C. R. (2004, April 26). Did Brown matter? The New Yorker. Retrieved from
Thomas, D. A., & Ely, R. J. (1996, September–October). Making differences matter: A
new paradigm for managing diversity. Harvard Business Review. Available at
Tinto, V. (2010). From theory to action: Exploring the institutional conditions for student
retention. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education handbook of theory and research
(Vol. 25, pp. 51–89). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Titcomb, C. (2014). Key events in Black higher education. The Journal of Blacks in
Higher Education, 57, 570.
Toldson, I. A. (2012). When standardized tests miss the mark. The Journal of Negro
Education, 81(3), 181–185.
Travis, R., & Leech, T. G. (2013). Empowerment-based positive youth development: A
new understanding of healthy development for African American youth. Journal
of Research on Adolescence, 24, 93–116.
Turner, B. (2019). The lived experiences of Black males who earned doctorates
(Unpublished master’s thesis). Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI.
Available at
Turner, C., & Grauerholz, L. (2017). Introducing the invisible man: Black male
professionals in higher education. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 39, 212–
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. (1991, March). Historically Black
colleges and universities and higher education desegregation. Retrieved from
Usowicz, E. (2008). Inclusion of diverse population: A phenomenological study
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Phoenix.
Vann Woodward, C. (1964). Plessy v. Ferguson: The birth of Jim Crow. American
Heritage, 15(3). Retrieved from
Vergo, J. M., Poulakis, M., Lesher, T., Khondker, S., Benyasut, P., & Del Corral Winder,
S. (2018). African American students’ perceptions of influential factors for
attendance in doctoral psychology. Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social
Sciences, 20(1), 127–145. Retrieved from:
Warde, B. (2014). Why race still matters 50 years after the enactment of the 1964 Civil
Rights Act. Journal of African American Studies, 18(2), 251–259.
Williams, J. M., & Bryan, J. (2013). Overcoming adversity: High-achieving African
American youth’s perspectives on educational resilience. Journal of Counseling
and Development, 91, 291–300.
Wirihana, L., Welch, A., Williamson, M., Christensen, M., Bakon, S., & Craft, J. (2018).
Using Colaizzi’s method of data analysis to explore the experiences of nurse
academics teaching on satellite campuses. Nurse Researcher, 25(4), 30–34.
Woodson, C. G. (1919). The education of the Negro prior to 1861: A history of the
education of the colored people of the United States from the beginning of slavery
to the Civil War. Washington, DC: The Associated Publishers.
Research Instrument
Participant Code/Alias: _______________
Part I: General Demographic Items
Age Group:
_____ 18 – 30 years _____ 31 – 40 years
_____ 41 – 50 years _____ 51 – 65 years
_____ older than 65 years
Professional Field: ___________________________
Doctoral degree type: _________ Year degree completed: _________
Part II: The following questions will be used to guide both the individual interviews and
to lead the focus group discussion.
1. What were some of the factors that actually motivated you to attend graduate
school and to earn a doctoral degree, and in looking back do you think there
were other initiatives that could have provided additional motivation for you
during the decision-making process?
2. Were there any specific ethnicity issues, under the control of leadership
(socially and professionally), which because of being an African American
man may have had a positive or negative impact on your decision to pursue a
doctoral degree? If so, would you please elaborate?
3. What activity, legal initiative, or provision provided by school leadership or
governmental agency would you say had the greatest impact on you as being
successful in accomplishing your doctoral degree?
4. What educational institutional resources did you find most effective when
trying to attain your doctoral degree that leaders should be aware of for future
5. What are some of the challenges you would inform leadership to be concerned
with when trying to motivate African American men to pursue a doctoral
6. Were there any specific support groups, special activities, or other types of
motivational activities that influenced you to pursue and earn a doctoral
degree? If yes, please share some of this information.
7. What activities or barriers under leadership control do you perceive might
have the largest negative impact on African American men achieving doctoral
8. From your lived experience, what types of activities do you think leaders
might implement to increase the number of African American men who would
pursue and complete doctoral degrees?
9. From your experience, are there any other perceptions or ideas you would like
to share that you think leaders should be aware of when trying to encourage
African American men to pursue and succeed in obtaining a doctoral degree?
If yes, please share your observations and ideas.
Invitation to Participate
Hi, my name is Lerita Watkins and I am a doctoral candidate at National Louis
University working on a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership degree. I am
conducting a study entitled The Importance of Leadership Activities in Addressing the
Shortage of African American Men Completing Doctoral Degrees. The purpose of this
study is to examine the lived experiences of African American men who earned doctoral
degrees to obtain an understanding of some of the activities implemented by leaders that
motivated them to pursue a higher education. The other purpose of this study, is to
investigate what methods and activities might be implemented to help increase the
completion rate of African Americans men, taking an in-depth look at the involvement of
all levels of leadership. A qualitative method will be used for this study.
I am seeking African American male professionals who meet the following
criteria in order to participate in the study:
• Obtained a doctoral degree
• Identify as African American man
• Obtained a doctoral degree in the past 15 years
Participants’ names will not be used in the material write-up so there will be no
manner of knowing from where participants work nor will the particular organization’s
name be shared in the material write-up. Participants will be given pseudonyms such as
Participant 1, Participant 2, etc. Should organizational names emerge in the interviews,
the organizations will be given pseudonyms as well, such as Organization 1, Organization
2, etc. and only the principal researcher will know to which participant or organization
the pseudonym aligns.
By participating in this study, the participant will know that he has contributed to
adding to the body of knowledge in helping professional and community leaders who
seek to motivate more African American men to pursue a doctoral degree, as well as
individuals within the African American community who wishes to obtain a doctorate.
If you are interested in participating and believe you meet the study participant
qualifications, please contact the researcher:
Lerita Watkins
[email protected]
Thank you in advance for your consideration and participation.
Informed Consent for Individual Interviews
My name is Lerita Watkins and I am a Doctoral student at National Louis
University. I am asking you to participate in this study, “The Importance of Leadership
Activities in Addressing the Shortage of African American Men Completing Doctoral
Degrees” occurring from 03-2020 to 06-2020. The purpose is to examine why the number
of African American Men receiving doctoral degrees is low.
This study will help professional and community leaders who seek to
motivate more African American Men to pursue a doctoral degree, as well as
individuals within the African American community who wish to obtain a doctorate.
This form outlines the purpose of the study and provides a description of your
involvement and rights as a participant.
By signing below, you are providing consent to participate in a research project
conducted by Lerita Watkins, Doctoral student, at National Louis University, Chicago,
Please understand that the purpose of the study is to explore the lived experiences
of African American male doctoral recipients to investigate why the number of African
American men receiving doctoral degrees is low. Participation in this study will include:
• One individual interview scheduled at your convenience in the winter and spring
of the 2019-2020 academic year.
o Interviews will last up to 45 minutes and include approximately nine
questions to understand the lived experiences of African American men
with doctoral degrees to obtain an understanding of some of the activities
implemented by leaders that motivated them to pursue and earn their
doctoral degrees.
o Interviews will be audio recorded and participants may view and have
final approval on the content of interview transcripts.
Your participation is voluntary and can be discontinued at any time without
penalty or bias. The results of this study may be published or otherwise reported at
conferences and used to inform professionals and community leadership of the practices
and strategies that can motivate and increase the number of African American men
completing doctoral degrees (data will be reported anonymously and bear no identifiers
that could connect data to individual participants). To ensure confidentiality, the
researcher will secure recordings, transcripts, and field notes in a locked cabinet in her
home office. Only the researcher, Lerita Watkins, will have access to the data.
There are no anticipated risks or benefits, no greater than those encountered in
daily life. Further, the information gained from this study could be useful to professional
and community leaders who seek to motivate more African American men to pursue a
doctoral degree, as well as individuals within the African American community who wish
to obtain a doctorate.
Upon request, you may receive summary results from this study and copies of any
publications that may occur. Please email the researcher, Lerita Watkins, at
[email protected] to request results from this study.
In the event that you have questions or require additional information, please
contact the researcher, Lerita Watkins, at [email protected] or call 312-856-3686.
If you have any concerns or questions before or during participation that have not
been addressed by the researcher, you may contact the dissertation chair: Dr. Pender
Noriega, email: pnori[email protected]; the co-chairs of NLU’s Institutional Research Board:
Dr. Shaunti Knauth, email: [email protected], phone: (312) 261-3526; or Dr.
Kathleen Cornett, email: [email protected], phone: (844) 380-5001. Co-chairs are located
at National Louis University, 122 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL.
Thank you for your consideration
Consent: I understand that by signing below, I am agreeing to participate in the
study, “The Importance of Leadership Activities in Addressing the Shortage of
African American Males Completing Doctoral Degrees.” My participation will
consist of the activities below during the 03/2020 – 06/2020 time period:
• Join in one of 12 to 15 interviews lasting approximately 45 minutes
____________________________________ _______________________
Participant’s Signature Date
____________________________________ _______________________
Researcher’s Signature Date

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment Help Service Works

1. Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2. Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3. Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4. Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essay GET A PERFECT SCORE!!! smile and order essay Buy Custom Essay

Place your order
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more
error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.
  +1 718 717 2861           + 44 161 818 7126           [email protected]
  +1 718 717 2861         [email protected]