Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Laura Zuniga



The focus in this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine the experiences of African American men who obtained a doctoral degree and the role of leadership in their success. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 African American men from across the United States. The research develops an understanding of patterns of leadership within institutions of higher education from an African American male perspective. Elements of the critical race theory served as the basis for the conceptual framework. The significant statements made by the 10 African American men reflected their distinct perceptions of the role leadership plays in African American men’s pursuit of their doctoral degree. Their articulation of the direct exploration, analysis, and description of the phenomenon allowed five themes to surface: (a) impact of self-established cohorts, (b) impact of mentors and the military, (c) impact of family, (d) impact of spirituality, and (e) impact of a lack of leadership. The results of this study support that there is a grave lack of African American male presence within leadership of higher education institutions and no relatable activities are being implemented or developed to meet the needs of African American men. Conclusively, the researcher suggests future research into the experiences and perspectives of African American men to broaden the conversation surrounding how leadership can help level the playing field for this population at institutions of higher education.