Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Hampton, Frederick

Subject Headings

African Americans, Higher Education, Teacher Education


According to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (2012), college degree attainment among African American males is only 16%, as compared to 20% for African American females, and 32% for Caucasian males. A great deal of research and emphasis has been placed on the struggles, challenges and shortcomings relative to African American male educational attainment. However, more work needs to be done to determine the factors that contribute to their academic success.

The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore the factors that contributed to the academic success of African American male college students that participated in the Baldwin Wallace University Scholars program (BW Scholars). For this program, cohorts of African American male students are selected during summers before ninth grade. Those scholars receive mentoring, academic enrichment and career readiness opportunities throughout their high school years in preparation for some sort of post-secondary enrollment. The aim of the program is to give the scholars the support that they need to graduate from high school. When a scholar applies to Baldwin Wallace for undergraduate studies and is accepted, he is given a full scholarship to the university.

Through one-on-one interviews, eight African American male scholars participated in this study. The results revealed their unique perceptions of academic success, and their attitudes, behaviors, and skills that were necessary for program completion. Despite their attendance in troubled urban high schools, the participants of this study benefitted from encouragement among family and friends, were careful in choosing friends, displayed good time management skills, and had a strong work ethic, all of which were important for their degree completion. Ultimately, the aim of this study is that the insights shared by the participants further inform university instructional programs that are designed to serve African American male college students.

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