Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Elizabeth Broughton, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Raul Leon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carmen McCallum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Calvin Phillips, Ed.D.


This dissertation described the lived experiences of Black males who earned doctorates. Using an anti-deficit framework, this study explored the post-college experience and doctoral completion. Past research about Black males utilize a deficit perspective indicating how negative experiences, at times, prevent academic achievement. This study used an interpretive approach with one-on-one face-to-face interviews with seven participants. The interviews were conducted in the geographic area of the Midwest, Southeastern, and Northwest regions of the United States. The narratives, rich and thick in descriptions, provided seven themes. The themes included (a) race, and how participants overcame stereotypes and certain challenges, (b) how a strong female presence was critical in their doctoral accomplishment, (c) how the identities of participants enabled them to get through challenges they confronted, (d) how determination helped them complete their graduate degrees, (e) how mentorship provided by key people enabled Black males to graduate with their doctorate degree, (f), how support systems were crucial in making it through and “being pushed” to succeed in graduate school and doctoral programing, and (g) how their academic abilities enabled them to thrive although “the struggle was real” and difficult at times. The themes were placed into three main categories: social, personal, and academic. Finally, these three categories, the social, personal, and the academic, may contribute to future researchers as they explore Black males in completing graduate degrees.