Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Andrea Kayne


The educational resilience of African American males has been extensively studied from elementary, high school, and undergraduate perspectives. Topics such as the “School to Prison Pipeline,” which characterizes the educational and life trajectories of African American males in America with regards to criminalization and mass incarceration, dominant resilience data. However, there are not nearly as many studies that specifically focus on the educational resilience of African American males who persist to earn doctoral degrees. Research continues to substantiate the fact that African American men earn doctoral degrees at exceptionally disproportionate rates in comparison to Caucasian men. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perception of factors that facilitated educational resilience among African American males who earned doctoral degrees. Through the utilization of a basic qualitative study design and drawing on the methodological elements of narrative inquiry, the key factors that affected the academic performance and doctoral degree completion of African American males were analyzed and discussed. Much resilience literature has also strictly focused on the perceived risk factors that negatively impact African American male educational resilience and degree attainment. Limited attention has been given to the factors that can positively affect African American educational resilience. Thus, researchers are challenged to shift educational resilience research models from deficit-informed paradigms to more strengths-based constructs. As such, the primary aims of this study were to utilize Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Africana Critical Theory (ACT) and focus on a strengths-based framework as a means of situating African American male educational resilience in higher education. Through in-depth interviews using open-ended questions and thick, rich descriptions, this study sought to address a gap in existing educational resilience literature. It also sought to provide insight as to how educators, institutions, individual stakeholders, and public policy makers might foster and contribute to the educational resilience, wellness, and success of African American males in higher education. The participants of this study included African American men who each earned a doctoral degree in a divergent area of study. The findings of this study indicated that mindset, access, mentorship, and self-reliance were the primary factors that contributed to the educational resilience and doctoral degree attainment of African American males. While the results indicated that mindset, access, mentorship, and self-reliance were integral factors in the educational resilience of African American men, resource allocation and other forms of personal, social, and academic support were also critical components to African American male doctoral degree attainment. The findings of this qualitative study might spur the development of future specialized mentorship programs and educational public policies that would benefit African American males. It might also lead to more focused academic, personal, and professional counseling, as well as additional measures of support for African American men in higher education, especially for those at the doctoral level.