Date of Award

Winter 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Gayle Mindes, EdD

Second Advisor

Nell Cobb, EdD

Third Advisor

Cheryl E. Matias, PhD


Within the African-American (AA) community, higher education is one of the ultimate gifts that could lead to success and a bright future. This qualitative study explored the experiences of four AA women who earned doctoral degrees in educational leadership from a predominately White institution (PWI). The research questions guiding this study were framed to learn the following:

1. the experiences of AA women who obtained doctorates at a PWI,

2. the factors the four interviewees perceived as contributing to the successful completion of their doctorate,

3. the elements that facilitated their degree progression,

4. the factors that inhibited their degree progression.

Critical race theory (CRT) and Black feminist theory (BFT) provided the conceptual framework for exploring and analyzing the experiences of the four AA women.

The data was collected using a qualitative methodology that consisted of openended, semi-structured questions and face-to-face interviews with the four AA women. Four emergent themes were derived from this study: 1. peer support, 2. institutional culture, 3. isolation, and 4. racism. Peer-support and favor from professors were factors that facilitated the four women’s degree progress, while the institutional culture, isolation, and racism were factors that inhibited the degree progress for two of the four AA women in this study. By detailing the counter-stories of AA women’s experience in higher education, I learned how some of the women were in pain and remained silent when they needed support while they earned their doctorates because of racism.

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