Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. H. Quincy Brown

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Heather M. Annulis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Casey Maugh Funderburk

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Dale L. Lunsford


In today's knowledge economy, the retention of skilled and college-educated workers is vital to the economic stability and long-term competitiveness of any region (Bernhard, 2007; Ehrke, 2014; He et al., 2016; Khaomin et al., 2022; Miller & Collins, 2022; Moretti, 2012; White et al., 2022; Winters, 2011). As the global economy evolves, Mississippi must continue accumulating and cultivating a workforce ready to meet the demands of today's labor markets. However, with the out-migration of Mississippi's college graduates post-graduation, the state continues to lose a valuable resource, its human capital (Miller & Collins, 2023; Miller & Collins, 2022; Mississippi Economic Council, 2022; White et al., 2022). The present study sought to examine the factors that influence the out-migration decisions of Mississippi's college graduates.

Using a descriptive, comparative research design, the researcher surveyed alums of The University of Southern Mississippi (n = 27). The results of the study revealed four key findings: (a) factors influencing Mississippi's college graduates' out-migration decisions are related to both economic and non-economic determinants; (b) specific personal characteristics (educational attainment, college major, child status, and migration history) play a role in influencing migration decisions; (c) quality work-life balance, obtaining a higher paying job, obtaining a job with opportunities for advancement and being closer to relatives are essential factors influencing migration decisions; and (d) participants indicated suitable housing and neighborhoods, affordable housing, job security, available job opportunities, and work-life balance as a significant community and life factors influencing migration decisions.

With the out-migration of Mississippi's college-educated workers, the state's stock and distribution of human capital will continue to change. Retaining human capital affects the region's long-term economic growth and attractiveness (Miller & Collins, 2023; Miller & Collins, 2022; Mississippi Economic Council, 2022; White et al., 2022). Why Mississippi's college graduates choose to stay or leave the state after graduation has policy and economic implications. The ability to understand which factors are most influential in the migration decisions of Mississippi's college graduates is necessary to preserve the long-term economic development and sustainability of the region.