Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Stephen Butler


The problem this basic qualitative study addressed was the low baccalaureate degreecompletion rate for airmen at an Air Force base in the Eastern Region of the United States (AFER). This problem is important because understanding the challenges airmen face may enable leadership to support degree completion, thus improve employment options after military service. The purpose of this study was to examine experiences of enlisted airmen completing a baccalaureate degree while serving in the military. Bean and Metzner’s theory on nontraditional student attrition was used as a framework for this study. The research questions were designed to help understand the challenges enlisted airmen experience and strategies they consider important to complete a degree. The participants included 10 active duty airmen stationed at an AFER working towards a baccalaureate degree. Data were collected in interviews and analyzed for common themes. The analysis of interview data revealed support from leadership was a key factor for academic success. Data results were used to develop a position paper for leadership with recommendations for implementing a unit level education program. Through this paper, leadership will gain insight on how to better support the education goals of their airmen. Improving degree completion rates for military personnel increases employment options when they transition out of the military, which can spark social change through these opportunities. At the local level, this project will support and encourage multiple services and agencies working together to support the needs of military learners.

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