The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: M.S.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Christine Imbra

Second Advisor

Steven McCullar

Third Advisor

Melanie Guentzel

Fourth Advisor

John Eller and Hsuehi Martin Lo

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

doctoral student, retention, persistence, degree completion, attrition, doctor of education


The purpose of this research study was to examine factors that influence doctoral students’ persistence and retention during various phases of professional development in the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program. This study used a quantitative approach and a quasi-experimental methodology to explore doctoral students’ needs and experiences from the students’ viewpoint as they were matriculating through their Ed.D. program. The factors explored included competencies, cultural adjustment, student transition to/through doctoral education, professional role identification and commitment, doctoral program environment, academic integration, social integration, SCSU campus environment, advising, research experiences, financial resources, and orientation.

Four assessment surveys (Admissions, Membership, Candidacy, and Dissertation) were created for this study. Each survey was administered during a specific phase of doctoral students’ professional development in the Ed.D. program at SCSU. Each survey was administered to students based on the students’ transitional phase in their program.

Research findings indicated that social integration factors had a significant positive impact on doctoral students’ persistence and retention. It also indicated that financial resource factors had a significant negative impact on doctoral students’ persistence and retention. Other factors examined in this study are also facilitating or hindering doctoral student’s program progression despite no statistical significance. Thus, no one factor will result in doctoral students staying in or leaving.



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