Date of Conferral







Kimberlee B. Bonura



There is a lack of current research about the experiences of stress related to discrimination encountered by African American students in online doctoral programs. Such discrimination can negatively impact the academics, educational experiences, and overall health of this student population. In this generic qualitative study, how African American students in online doctoral programs interpreted, perceived, and responded to their experiences of stress regarding discrimination was explored. Using the conceptual framework of Lazarus and Folkman’s cognitive appraisal theory, the research questions addressed stress related to discrimination encountered in online educational institutions, discriminatory factors perceived as inhibitors towards earning a doctoral degree, and coping strategies utilized. Data were collected from 8 African American online doctoral students, including 3 men and 5 women, in Skype interviews, and NVivo 12 facilitated the thematic analysis of their responses. Findings indicate that African American online doctoral students perceive that they experience discrimination from faculty and university staff and that this perception leads to stress, depression, and self-doubt. Research is recommended on distinguishing student isolation based on online educational delivery from student isolation based on discrimination, objectively measuring discrimination, and including the perceptions of professors and administrators. The results of the study can inform university administrators and policymakers about the importance of addressing issues of discrimination that can negatively influence the academic success and health of African American students.