Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

James Lampley

Committee Members

Bethany Flora, Don Good, Susan Graybeal


As the United States struggles to be globally competitive with the number of students completing a college degree higher education leaders continue seeking answers to improving student retention and graduation rates. Decades of research has been conducted on investigating factors that impact student retention and graduation with the majority of that research being centered on student attributes and students’ precollege characteristics. Research has been limited on institutional characteristics and their associations with student retention and graduation rates. Therefore the purpose of this study was to examine the extent that specific institutional characteristics predict first-year, full-time, fall-to-fall retention rates and 6-year graduation rates.

The sample for this study consisted of 4-year institutions in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) region that have been granted Level III accreditation status and also report data annually to the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS). All data used for this research were publicly available archival data available from IPEDS. Sixteen research questions were investigated about institutional student variables, environment variables, resource variables, financial variables, and interaction variables. Multiple linear regressions were conducted for all research questions, representing the statistical method of analysis.

The findings showed that the most useful predictors for retention rates were students scoring at or above the 75th percentile ACT scores, physical library collections, expenditures for academic support, and tuition and required fees. When investigating to what extent institutional characteristics predict 6-year graduation rates the findings showed that 75th percentile ACT scores, physical library collections, expenditures for instruction, the percentage of full-time faculty, and cost were the most useful predictors. Findings also showed that student-faculty ratios and the percentage of full-time faculty were not significant predictors for student retention. Some institutional predictor variables may be significant predictors for both retention rates and graduation rates, while other predictor variables may be significant predictors for only one of the criterion variables.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.