Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Gary Skolits

Committee Members

Jennifer Morrow, Jimmy Cheek, Sondra LoRea


This study seeks to better understand the needs of graduate students at a large southeastern university through a qualitative needs assessment framed by Altschuld’s (2015) asset / capacity building needs assessment model. Through graduate student focus groups and faculty, staff and administrator interviews, this study investigates the needs, successes, and assets of and for post-baccalaureate students within the university setting and context. Qualitative analysis procedures inductive thematic content analysis, primarily following an interpretivist paradigm (Fereday & Muir-Cochraine, 2006; Saldana, 2016). Findings illustrate the existence of both specific graduate student needs as well as assets to supplement these needs. Study analysis yielded thirteen primary themes, which were then categorized into Altschuld’s (2015) asset / capacity building needs assessment framework of unmet needs, barriers, current assets, and future assets. Study findings evidence several key current assets currently supporting graduate student success, including graduate student support structures, research opportunities, and professional development opportunities. Unmet needs and barriers evidenced in the study included areas focused on communication, advising, mental health, and institutional structures. Future assets include building broader, deeper graduate student communities and emphasizing the importance of individual student identities. Recommendations to improve graduate student success evidenced from this study include the establishment of a centralized hub for graduate students, a review of institutional processes, and increased support and structures for advising and community development.

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