Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore


African Americans surpass other ethnicities in their level of spiritual and religious engagement (Johnson, Elbert-Avilla, &Tulsky, 2005). This is particularly true for African American college students. This engagement though, may be especially important in providing African American students a path to academic success. According to Donahoo and Caffey (2010) "African American students remain committed to church involvement and religious practice, in part, due to the range of individual benefits and supports that those opportunities provide" (p. 79). This study investigated the role of spirituality in African American college students' achievement; to understand how and why they become involved, and how this involvement impacted their college achievement. This was accomplished through a case study on Apostolic Christians in Today's Society (ACTS) Campus Ministry, a campus ministry with a predominantly Black congregation. Findings revealed that African American students first become involved after being invited by a friend or peer who was already highly involved in the ministry, and remained involved after having many positive experiences. For many, the ministry took on a family-like role, providing them with a sense of purpose and belongingness, positive affirmations, which led to increased confidence in their academic and social selves, clarified career paths and eventual achievement status in their spiritual identity. Implications for college student affairs, campus ministry and recommendations for future research are also presented.