Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Administration

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Paulette Isaac-Savage, Ed.D., Chairperson


Lorenzo Bowman, Ph.D.

Wilma Calvert, Ph.D.

Thomasina Hassler, Ph.D.


Due to several decisions by the United States Supreme Court in the 19th and 20th centuries, African Americans were granted access to PWI’s of higher education. However, African Americans still face challenges in obtaining post-secondary education. For example, in 2019 – 2020, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2021), 13.1% of African Americans graduated with master’s degrees. Additionally, in 2020, 19% of African Americans attained a post-secondary degree in Missouri (, 2021).

Despite access, the number of African Americans obtaining degrees remains low. And, when the lens is focused on African American males, the numbers are dismal (U. S. Census Bureau, 2021). The purpose of this study was to investigate how mentoring enabled African American males to persist and obtain master’s degrees in PWIs in Missouri. Tinto’s conceptual framework was used to explain what higher education institutions can do to retain and assist students in persisting to graduation. Tinto emphasizes the importance of higher education institutions being committed, intentional, and structured to establish forms of action that involve faculty, student affairs staff, and others to promote student retention and student persistence. Six African American males participated in the study. They ranged in age from 28 to 63 years old. Four of the participants were married. All but one had a degree in education. Five participants attended a public PWI. Using thematic analysis, three themes emerged: Academic Support Aspects, Relationships, and Mentoring Aspects. Categories identified were Personal, Academic, Professional, and Students. Recommendations for future research include a study of a team of cross-functional faculty, students, administrators, and support staff whose function is to oversee institutional planning and student success at PWIs and conducting a nation-wide study of African American males who obtained master’s degrees who received mentoring.

Keywords: mentoring, persistence, engagement, PWI, conferment of master’s degrees, African American males