Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Jesse Washington


Student attrition from universities carries high costs for individuals, universities, and society. Despite these costs, there has been limited research on the problem from the students' perspectives, specifically the perceptions of university graduates about what factors may have influenced their own retention at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). African American students complete college at the lowest rate compared to other ethnic sub groups. Guided by Tinto's theory of student departure, this qualitative consensual research study focused on the perceptions of 15 bachelor of social work graduates regarding (a) the factors that helped them to persist to graduation at an HBCU, and (b) the internal and external factors that influenced college retention. Data were gathered from semi-structured interviews, a demographic survey, and a follow-up questionnaire. Data were transcribed; member checked for enhanced trustworthiness; and then analyzed inductively using a team to develop and code domains by consensus, construct core ideas, and develop categories. Findings indicated that, among these 15 graduates, internal factors such as loss of scholarships, lack of faculty support, and lack of academic preparation influenced retention. External issues such as family strain and lack of university/community partnerships were also reported as influencing retention. In addition, findings suggested that these 15 students required increased academic, financial, mental health, and social support services to persist to graduation. This study contributes to social change by affecting improvement in retention and ensuring support services equal student needs. Improvements in retention and support could help to grow an educated and skilled work force.