Date of Conferral





Human Services


Gregory Hickman


AbstractThe retention rates for multiracial students in higher education have been the focus of researchers, student affairs practitioners, and other key stakeholders for many years. Despite the increase of this population attending online doctoral programs, the retention rates continue to remain in question. The research problem for this study examined how online multiracial doctoral students perceive the effectiveness of their online university’s student engagement and academic achievement as it pertains to student retention. The theoretical framework of the study was Tinto’s theory of institutional departure, which addressed student challenges in establishing positive engagement practices in their online learning environments. Data from seven participants were collected through interviews on Zoom and analyzed using thematic content analysis. In-depth semistructured interviews were used to capture the unique understandings of multiracial doctoral students and their experiences in an online university. There were four clear themes which emerged from the data; positive engagement between faculty and students, the value of student to student interaction, course delivery and design, and pushing through barriers: student performance and characteristics. The findings from this study established that effective engagement practices had a positive impact on the academic achievements of multiracial doctoral students attending an online university. Student affairs practitioners may be better able to assist in the development of programs designed for recruiting and retaining diverse students when they understand how multiracial students make sense of their educational environments.