Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Ross Alexander


Few colleges and universities have adopted the practice to provide credits for the majority of undergraduate coursework for military career training. Easing the transition from military to civilian life has become a priority for the Department of Defense, yet there is a significant gap in empirical knowledge regarding the potential benefits of a college degree on soldiers exiting the military. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of Army Medics who have transitioned back into civilian life after graduating from a college degree program that grants significant credit for military training. This phenomenological study used a conceptual framework derived from Schlossberg's adult transition theory. Data were collected from a focus group, semi-structured interviews, and interviewer notes. Seven participants were identified through purposive sampling. Interview transcripts and interviewer notes were analyzed using the Van Kaam method and yielded 4 pre-transition and 6 transitional themes. Findings indicated that the participants' initial fears of the transition were replaced with higher perceptions of self-worth and confidence, which benefitted them as they assimilated back into civilian society. The implications for positive social change include informing the Department of Defense and policymakers who are supporting soldiers transitioning to civilian life about study participants' increased feelings of self-worth and confidence upon degree completion.