Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Lilian Hill

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Myron Labat

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



Historically black colleges, whose graduation rates have been low when compared to white institutions, are facing some serious issues (Kelderman, 2012). Nichols (2004) notes that institutions of higher learning play an important role in preparing students for professions, promoting equality for women and minorities, providing educational opportunities for disadvantaged and low income students, solving socioeconomic problems, servicing government and industry, complying with rules and regulations that ensure the rights of all people, trying to keep tuition low, paying competitive salaries to faculty and staff, providing a quality education, and providing social and cultural services to the community (Jones, 1984; Nicholas, 2004). HBCUs have not been excluded from this role regardless of their individual problematic situations.

Data was collected on the 13 HBCUs from the Center for Educational statistics college navigator related site, College Results Online. Comparisons were observed for each institution in relation to non-public historically black college and universities. Several variables were observed across the HBCUs and non-HBCUs including: African-American gender graduation rate, median earnings 10 years after entry, percent earning more than 25,000/year 10 years after entry, median debt of completers, loan repayment rate 5 years after leaving, federal loan 3 year default rate, instructional expenditures, student related expenditures, educational and general expenditures, percent full-time faculty, full-time undergrad student to faculty ratio, socio-economic diversity, percent of students returning after freshman year, percentages in which students thought professors were helpful and approachable, institutional safety, 2016 6 year graduation rate, percent admitted, open admission, average high school GPA among freshman, and median ACT composite. Of those variables, institutional safety, students who return after their freshman year, and graduation rates seemed to indicate a relationship just through observation of the raw data.

A path analysis was conducted and it was found that institutional safety accounted for 39% of the explanation for graduation rates and the percentage of students who return after their freshman year account for 20% of the explanation for graduation rates. These two variables explain 65% of the graduation rates, with institutional safety explaining the majority of the graduation rates.