Date of Conferral







Alan Seidman


Enrollment in master level programs has been increasing nationwide, particularly in online programs which tend to enroll older and more ethnically diverse students who are likely to be balancing work, finances, and family responsibilities with their educational pursuits. The challenges related to this balance has resulted in higher attrition rates and lower completion rates. In this quantitative study, the relationship between employer support and first-year retention for master's students enrolled in online programs at a for-profit university was examined. Bean and Metzner's model of nontraditional student attrition was used as the theoretical foundation. Archival data from the online institution were examined to determine the extent that 1st year retention is predicted by employer support when controlling for demographics, student background, external factors, integration/socialization, and intent to graduate. Findings from the logistic regression analysis showed 4 variables that significantly predict 1st year retention, employer support, household income, overall satisfaction, and importance of graduating from the institution. Students who received employer support were almost 2 times more likely to be retained at 1-year. Positive social change can result from having educational institutions encourage students to seek employee educational benefits. Having students seek these employer benefits may lead to higher graduation rates, higher pay, and job satisfaction for employees.