Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Causey-Konate', Tammie

Second Advisor

Beabout, Brian

Third Advisor

Paradise, Louis

Fourth Advisor

Chauvin, Sheila


Despite increased diversity noted in undergraduate education in recent years (Antonio, 2003), students from non-majority groups continue to be underrepresented in graduate school. Many research studies (Perna, 2000, 2004; Perna & Titus, 2005; Rowan-Kenyon, 2007; Walpole, 2003, 2007b) have used measures of cultural and social capital to increase the explanatory power of the traditional econometric framework in college choice models, but have not used these sociological variables as a primary focus. The purpose of this correlational study was to explore the influence of cultural capital and social capital on the decision of bachelor’s degree completers to enter graduate school and ultimately to degree achievement. The study is an extension of Perna’s 2004 work, which examined similar relationships of cultural and social capital variables via use of the Baccalaureate & Beyond: 93/97 study. Based on Walpole’s findings (2003), variables related to socioeconomic status (SES) were also included in my analysis.

The data used to answer the research questions were collected as part of a longitudinal study, the Baccalaureate & Beyond: 93/03. Participants in the Baccalaureate & Beyond: 93/03 study were students in the U.S. who earned a bachelor’s degree during the 1992-1993 academic year, representing a population of 1.2 million individuals (Choy, Bradburn, & Carroll, 2008). My findings revealed that measures of cultural and social capital have a significant influence on graduate school enrollment and degree completion. Among low SES students (as designated by family income) cultural and social capital variables substantially increased the likelihood of graduate degree attainment.


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