Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Higher Education Administration

Department or School/College

College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

Frances L. O'Reilly

Commitee Members

Roberta Evans, John Matt, William P. McCaw, Dusten Hollist


American Indian, Native American, Indigenous, education, higher education, degree completion, persistence, post-secondary, graduate degree, graduate school, masters, professional, doctorate, culture


University of Montana


The underrepresentation of American Indian students continues to exist at the undergraduate and graduate levels of postsecondary education despite increases of American Indian student enrollment. The purpose of this quantitative survey study was to identify correlations between academic factors and graduate student persistence, as well as to understand how likely graduate degree completion is based on known academic factors for American Indian students. The analyses of the data included survey results, descriptive statistics, bivariate correlation, and multivariate regression. A sample of n=63 American Indian Graduate students represented 41 tribes and villages with over 32 unique tribal languages. The respondents indicated a challenge to balance graduate school, family and cultural responsibilities, however most felt a personal responsibility to complete their graduate degrees for their communities.

Although academic factors, American Indian programs, and self-awareness are not significant predictors of American Indian Graduate student persistence, the relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable were statistically significant. Implications for academic institutions include strategic planning with American Indian representation throughout the entire process.

Recommendations for future research include further development of measurable concepts of indigenous theories and recognition of dual conclusions for American Indian and non-American Indian researchers.



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