Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

J. Patrick Biddix

Committee Members

Jimmy G. Cheek, Norma T. Mertz, Gary J. Skolits


The process of choosing a college can be quite difficult for high school students and their families. If the student considers issues of faith in this process, it can cause additional complexity. While researchers have examined many factors that influence the college selection process (Baliyan, 2016; Espinosa, Bradshaw & Hausman, 2000; Noel-Levitz, 2012; Nurnberg, Schapiro, & Zimmerman, 2012; Perez, 2008; Tucciarone, 2007), there is little research that focuses on the factors that influence the selection of a faith-based institution. Research shows the factors that affect this process are varied and include the influence of parents (MacCallum, Glover, Queen, & Riggs, 2007), impact of guidance counselors (Bryan, Moore-Thomas, Day-Vines & Holcomb-McCoy, 2011), race and ethnicity (Kouyoumdjian, Guzmán, Garcia, & Talavera-Bustillos, 2015), gender (Johanson, 2007); financial considerations (MacAllum, Glover, Queen, and Riggs, 2007), military veterans (Hill, 2016) and the actual college or university itself (Josephson, Kelly, & Smith, 2020). For many students across the US, another critical factor of college choice is the student’s faith and the faith mission of the institution.

The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify the factors influencing college choice of a faith-based institution. The population for this study included 180 first-year freshmen students who just completed their initial semester of college at three member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). The institutions included had a minimum enrollment of 2,500 students. Participants completed a researcher-created instrument, the College Choice of Faith-Based Institutions Survey (CCFBI). The instrument was 30 questions. Demographics of the respondents included gender, race/ethnicity, distance from home to college, type of high school attended, enrollment in first college choice, and citizenship.

The results revealed the factors most influential in the choice of a faith-based college include academic reputation and opportunities. The results also revealed significant differences on factors including the influence of others on students who traveled 6 – 10 miles or 101 – 500 miles to college. In addition, significant findings were found with students who enrolled in their first college choice on campus appearance and visit, academic reputation and opportunities, influence of others, and faith.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."