School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


David T. Vacchi


women student veterans, student veterans, doctoral programs, attribution theory, doctoral persistence




The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenology was to understand the experiences of women student veterans enrolled in residential doctoral programs in the United States. Drawing from this purpose, the central research question for this study was: What are the experiences of women veterans enrolled in doctoral programs? The theory guiding this study was Weiner’s attributional theory of achievement, motivation, and emotion, as it framed an exploration of the students’ ability to perform in challenging academic events and maintain motivation to learn within a doctorate program. The setting for this study was any US-based university with a residential doctoral program, increasing the likelihood of finding interested participants. Using purposeful and snowball sampling, 10 women veterans were selected, who were current or former doctoral students and had served in any branch of the U.S. military, either full or part-time status. The data collection methods consisted of individual interviews, advice letters, and a focus group. Using Miles and Huberman as a model, the data analysis strategies included cleaning and coding the data, chunking the data into groups, setting aside outliers, creating clusters by combining similar groups, and identifying themes. The results of this study were that the cultural organization of doctoral education mainly impacted the experiences of women veterans within residential doctoral programs, and when these influences created challenges, they used grit to persist, mainly relying on their traits of conscientiousness.

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