School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


John C. Thomas


African Americans and Persistence, African Americans and Spirituality, Faith and African Americans, Spirituality and Higher Education, Spirituality Scale, Tinto’s Attrition Model


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


African American doctoral students experience the highest levels of attrition (60%) in the nation and the most social and academic challenges in higher education. Concurrently, research supports that African Americans are among the most spiritual people in America. This study applied hierarchical logistic regression to investigate the relationship between spirituality and persistence among African American doctoral students (N = 179). Tinto’s model of attrition, a systematic framework to predict degree completion based on suicide theory, was employed. Reliable instruments, the Institutional Integration Scale and the Spirituality Scale, were utilized. Results revealed that (a) different levels of spirituality were related to Tinto’s central elements to degree completion; (b) African Americans with high levels of spirituality were three times more likely to finish their program than those with low levels of spirituality; (c) spiritual attribution, a dimension of spirituality, was positively related to degree completion; and (c) holding a leadership position in one’s faith community was negatively related to degree completion.