Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Casey A. Barrio Minton

Committee Members

Joel F. Diambra, Dorian L. McCoy, Laura S. Wheat


The purpose of this qualitative constructivist grounded theory study was to develop a theory regarding persistence of traditionally marginalized doctoral students in CACREP accredited counselor education programs. This study addressed two research questions: How do marginalized students persist through doctoral counselor education programs? and What factors influence persistence of marginalized students in doctoral counselor education programs?

This study included participants that identified as women, people of color, or LGBTQ who had successfully defended a dissertation proposal or were less than one year post graduation. Data was collected via three focus groups and two individual interviews with 10 participants. The researcher used a constructivist grounded theory analysis combined with a critical perspective to explore the experiences of these participants and develop themes. Findings suggest that traditionally marginalized students experience multiple forms of marginalization and oppression within their programs. Participants were confronted with experiences that caused them to question themselves. Navigating these experiences required developing their identities in the context of their programs and identifying their motivation to pursue doctoral studies. Participants sought to develop strategic ways of advocating for themselves and other individuals within their programs. Culture and support systems were important factors in persistence for these participants. Based on these findings, implications for counselor educators and recommendations for future research were provided.

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