Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Melinda M. Gibbons

Committee Members

Mitsunori Misawa, Karen D. Boyd, Laura S. Wheat


Student veterans (SVs)are a population of students studied extensively at the undergraduate level. These students possess military traits and characteristics that influence their academic experiences. Existing research focuses on these experiences to better understand and assist in fostering academic persistence. However, there is gap in literature that explores the lived experiences of graduate SVs. This literature is even more pronounced when narrowed to graduate SVs enrolled in Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Therefore, this study sought to address this gap and gain a better understanding of graduate SVs and their academic experiences that lead to persistence. This study used Moustakas (1994) transcendental phenomenological approach to interview, code, and analyze the experiences of nine graduate SVs. I used the research question, “What are the lived experiences of graduate SVs enrolled in CACREP counseling programs?” to guide the research topic. This study found that graduate SVs experienced acknowledging identity, balancing life, pursuing goals, feeling supported and connected, resolving challenges, and maintaining perspective were important factors while persisting in their graduate counseling programs. This study found that acknowledging identity and balancing life were constant considerations for graduate SVs that involved resolving intrapersonal and interpersonal challenges. In addition, this study offers recommendations that graduate SVs noted as considerations or experiences that led the pursue and complete their counseling programs.

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