Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael Butcher


In spite of a 2009 memorandum from senior Air Force leaders calling for civilian employees to participate in nonresident Professional Military Education (PME) courses, employees' PME completion rates have remained low. This qualitative study investigated the perceptions of nonresident PME held by 12 employees at an installation with a nonresident PME completion rate of less than 3% in 2013. The theories of reasoned action and planned behavior guided the 5 main questions that asked participants to describe their familiarity with nonresident PME course content, availability, and structure; as well as their perceptions of organizational support for PME course participation, their capacity to complete PME courses, the role of nonresident PME in their leadership development, and the importance of PME completion for attaining their career goals. The data were manually coded and organized according to the emergent themes and subthemes. None of the participants identified any external barriers to nonresident PME completion, but factors such as supervisor support, prior participation in enlisted PME, personal interest in PME course content, and inconsistent hiring practices influenced participants' perceptions of nonresident PME for their professional development and career progression. The findings and prior research suggest the Air Force should educate PME eligible civilians regarding the benefits of nonresident PME, conduct focus groups to discover employees' specific learning needs, and assist supervisors in establishing effective mentoring relationships. These actions have the potential to enhance employee motivation, to align employee development with organizational goals and objectives, and to increase supervisor-subordinate collaboration.