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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Ben Pogodzinski


College degree attainment for Black Americans has significantly fallen their majority counterparts. While educational attainment for this minority demographic has been less than average, a secondary trend emerges. Despite the rises in graduation rates, Black males consistently earn a smaller percentage of the degrees garnered by Black students. Furthermore, policies throughout sectors of American society produce segregation that manifests as genocidal realities in the lives of Black men—including college graduation. Thus, the purpose of this research was to determine the effect of neighborhood segregation on Black men and women’s 4 and 6-year graduation probability and determine if Black men reduce the gap when given 6 years to graduate. The theoretical framework of African American Male Theory guided this study. Utilizing the Princeton Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF), the research utilized binary logistic regression to analyze the effect of 3 independent variables (household income, maternal education level, and neighborhood segregation) on dependent variables (4-year graduation and 6-year graduation).

A purposeful sample 1051 Black students (368 men and 683 women) from the NLSF were used in the analysis. The majority of study participants (55%) had a mother that had at least a bachelor’s degree; 45% of the students came from neighborhoods that were majority Black (having at least 70% Black people in their neighborhood), and 15% came from poverty, 25% were low income, and 58% had incomes greater than low income. The logistic regression analysis found that for Black men, the odds of graduating and coming from a majority Black community are .506, and from a more diverse community, they are .661. For Black women, the odds of graduating in 4 years when growing up in a majority Black neighborhood were .937 and 1.6369 when growing up in a more diverse area.

The study determined racial segregation more adversely impacts Black men’s ability to graduate with a bachelor’s degree than it does for Black women. Even in desegregated (diverse) neighborhoods, Black men were unable to reduce the degree attainment gap given 4 or 6 years to graduate. The regression analyses yielded results that support the initial hypothesis that segregation is a significant predictor of bachelor degree attainment apart from academic preparation. Based on the indicators, predictors, and factors correlated with college degree attainment from the review of the literature, the results suggest that larger societal factors could potentially be significant predictors of college degree attainment outside of academic preparation. The findings argue for targeted interventions at the local, state, and federal levels to life course barriers imposed on Black males.

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