Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Thesis Director

Dianne Timm

Thesis Committee Member

Ryan C. Hendrickson

Thesis Committee Member

Mona Y. Davenport


Just because first-generation students are in graduate school and have accomplished a bachelor’s degree docs not mean they overcame the status risks and are prepared for the graduate school experience. This at-risk population is left relying on the same tactics utilized during undergrad to endure graduate school. The present qualitative study describes how first-generation graduate students (FGGS) experience a master’s degree program with new challenges mentally, socially, and academically. To gain insight, semi-structured interviews of four participants were conducted to answer the following questions: 1) what motivated FGGS to pursue a master’s degree: 2) What resources are FGGS aware of and utilize / What resources do students identify as making them most successful: and 3) How do FGGS describe their experience in graduate school? Results from the study suggest that FGGS have many factors affecting if and how they overcome the status risks and challenges. The study ends with a discussion of implications for academic and student affairs professionals for practice in support of FGGS.