School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


David Vacchi


student veterans, higher education, military support, distance learning, academic interactions


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenology was to explore the academic interactions of online undergraduate veterans as they completed their degrees. The objective of this study was to answer the question, “What influences the success of online student veterans in completing their undergraduate degrees?” The theory guiding this study was Astin’s I-E-O model as it framed my research with the inputs of military training, environmental factors as academic interactions, and the outcome of graduating with their degree. My study also contained Vacchi’s Conceptual Model of Student Veteran Support as a focused lens to examine the academic interactions experiences of student veterans. Additionally, my study took a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to qualitative research while examining 13 student veterans who completed an online undergraduate degree. I conducted virtual interviews and focus groups, thus eliminating the need for a specific physical site. The data was collected through interviews and focus groups which was then transcribed and coded for common themes and meanings that relate back to the central research question. My research collected information that academic interactions were not meaningful in influencing success even with negative interactions of discrimination and bias. The data showed that student veterans were successful to internal and external stimulators as well as choosing an academic institution that had an infrastructure conducive to their success.