Date of Award

Summer 8-31-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Len Hightower

Second Advisor

Carlos Rodriguez

Third Advisor

Annica Meza Dawe


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and explore factors that led to the attainment of a terminal degree as perceived by first generation Hispanic males in Southern California. A secondary purpose of the study was to determine, of the factors identified, which were perceived to have the greatest impact on attainment of a terminal degree by first generation Hispanic males in Southern California.

Methodology: This phenomenological study collected data via semi-structured interviews and review of artifacts. The study sample involved 13 First-Generation Hispanic Males in Southern California who have attained a terminal degree. Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory served as the theoretical framework of the study and guided the data collection and analysis. Participant interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, reviewed, and coded.

Findings: Three major themes emerged from the data to include (a) Verbal Persuasion, (B) Stress and stress management, and (c) career growth, all of which had a major impact on the participants attainment of their terminal degree.

Conclusions: The data and findings from this study concluded that: (a) Hispanic males established the need to attain a terminal degree for career advancement, (b) Hispanic males saw the terminal degree as a path to open senior leadership roles, (c) the relationship mentors and faculty had with Hispanic males guided to a positive academic outcome, (d) Hispanic males saw attaining the terminal degree as vessel to be able to give back and mentor the generation of Hispanic scholars, and lastly, (e) Hispanic males made connections with other peers which helped build their self-efficacy as they saw their peers succeed.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to include expanding the study throughout all of California and the United States; replication of this study using a quantitative method; analyzing the return in investment of Hispanic males’ terminal degree attainment over a five-to-seven-year span; and investigating the struggle faced by LGTBQ+ Hispanic males in attaining their terminal degrees.