Date of Award

Summer 8-25-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Anne Benoit

Second Advisor

Laura Douglass

Third Advisor

Valerie Shinas


While there are a number of studies that focus on adult undergraduate and even doctoral persistence, adult master’s degree students and particularly those who study part time, are a population that have been overlooked by researchers. This constructivist, qualitative study of part-time master’s degree students used narrative inquiry and experience-centered narratives to bring rich descriptive data to the conversation surrounding the persistence of part-time master’s degree students and the barriers they face in pursuit of their degree. The data for this study was collected via semi-structured interviews with 15 participants and shows that part-time master’s degree students enrolled in Humanities programs see the external support of family, friends, and employers, along with their commitment to obtaining the degree, as integral to their persistence. Situational, institutional, and dispositional barriers in the form of time management, financial concerns and internal compassion were identified by the participants as barriers that impacted their persistence and overcoming them often required creative solutions, although financial issues remained a constant concern. This study recommends that institutions increase support structures for their adult part-time master’s degree students who may not have the external support necessary to encourage them to persist in the program and shows that further research into this population is warranted.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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