Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Heather Annulis

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. H. Quincy Brown

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. John J. Kmiec

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Katie Howie

Committee Member 5 School



The United States fails to meet its own workforce needs, and estimates show that by the year 2025, almost two out of three jobs in the nation will require at least some postsecondary education or training (Carnevale et al., 2019b). Jobs with the fastest growth rate will require an associate degree (Carnevale et al., 2019b). According to the most recent national data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center, one in three students begin their college journey at a community college (NCES, 2019). Only 40% finish a degree or credential within six years (NCES, 2019). The proportion of those completing college is much worse for students of color, where a student's chances of completing college are 16% less for Black students when compared to their White counterparts (Lumina, 2021a.). By bridging these gaps, the United States can meet current and future workforce needs and compete in the global economy.

To investigate factors associated with differences in completion rates between Black and White community college students, this study used a mixed-methods approach of causal-comparative quantitative methods combined with the qualitative interview research method. Results of the IPEDS data analysis informed interviews with community college administrative officers at institutions with the highest performance in reducing completion gaps between Black and White students.

The study’s four findings are derived from a purposeful combination of quantitative statistical analysis and qualitative interview inquiry and confirm prior findings, while also bringing forth new information. The study’s first finding confirms prior research that White community college students complete college at a higher rate than Black community college students. The study also found a statistically significant relationship between the percent of Black instructional staff in predicting the gap between Black and White community college students. Other key findings include the use of data as a key behavior among community colleges successful in closing gaps between Black and White community colleges students, and the importance of social supports in creating equitable outcomes between Black and White community college students.