Sherrita Rogers




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Lucinda S Spaulding


Attrition, Black Women, Distance Education, Doctoral Student Persistence, Online Doctoral Programs


Black women are earning doctoral degrees in the field of education at a rate higher than any other demographic group; however, their overall degree obtainment is increasing at a slower rate than other minority groups. In addition, median degree completion rates in the field of education are higher than any other measured field of study. At the same time, enrollment in distance education doctoral programs is increasing at exponential rates, while doctoral attrition rates continue to hover around 50%. There is a significant amount of research examining persistence for both distance education doctoral programs and Black women; however, there is a gap in the literature regarding the doctoral persistence of Black women enrolled in distance education programs. The purpose of this study was to give voice to the persistence experiences of Black women in distance education doctoral programs, in the field of education. This research study utilized critical race theory of education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) and Tinto’s (1975, 1993, & 2012) theory of student integration as theoretical frameworks. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, letters, and life timelines. Qualitative analysis indicated that Black women in distance education doctoral programs attributed the personal factors of grit, serving as a role model, and status, as well as social factors of mentoring and peer, family, and social group relationships, as important to their persistence experiences. Data analysis further indicated that institutional factors such as faculty support, program structure, university commitment to diversity, and perceived racial anonymity in distance education environments, all contributed to the persistence experiences of Black women in distance education doctoral programs.