Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Third Advisor

Dr. Geoffrey Whitehurst

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Decker Hains


Adult learners, GI Bill, Military friendly schools, military in transition, veterans, veteran students


There have been many studies of military and veteran students attending a higher education institution after a period of time on active duty. The studies on this population can be divided into four categories: (a) stopping out (Belch, 2004; Cavote & Kopera-Frye, 2007; DiRamio & Spires, 2009; Schnoebelen, 2013), (b) financial (Winston, 2010), (c) enrollment, (Hassan, Jackson, Lindsay, McCabe, & Sanders, 2010) and (d) programming (APSCU, 2013; Burnett & Segoria, 2009; DiRamio, Ackerman, & Mitchell, 2008; Lokken, Pfeffer, McAuley & Strong, 2009; Mangan, 2009). There is limited research on completion rates for veteran and military students who have the opportunity to use specific veteran and military services and attend a “‘Top 100’ Military Friendly” institution. What has yet to be explored or revealed is what the veteran and military students are experiencing and what they are deriving from the initiatives to provide them with specific support at a “‘Top 100’ Military Friendly” institution. The purpose of this phenomenological bounded case study is to describe and interpret how these specific undergraduate students make meaning of their lived experiences at a “‘Top 100’ Military Friendly” institution in the Midwest. In particular, this study will tease out the essence of the veteran and military students’ institutional experiences which enabled or slowed their successful degree completion. The research questions were designed to capture the essence of the lived experience of the military and veteran student at a “‘Top 100’ Military Friendly” institution as they progressed to completion.

The participants of this study were recruited using criterion and purposeful sampling (Creswell, 2013). Data was gathered using open-ended questions during face-to-face interviews with military and veteran students. Eight participants were interviewed who had applied for graduation or graduated from the institution within the past year. Then, three key informants were interviewed who were instrumental in the development and continued oversight of the military and veteran services at the institution. Finally, documents were collected and reviewed that relate to the evolution and function of the military and veteran program at the institution.

Major findings of the study indicate that the needs of the military and veteran students were simple: provide a detailed plan for their courses and they will follow that, tell them who they need to work with to complete the necessary paperwork for funding and financial challenges and they will work through that individual and lastly, the military and veteran students have developed their own system of coping and have not relied on the support programs put in place for this population at the institution. Based on the information gathered from all sources, I believe the institution is meeting the needs of the military and veteran students.

This study was conducted through the lenses of the Adult Learner Theory, Andragogy Theory and Transition Theory. Further research is recommended on the impact of distance learning for this population, composition of this population of learners with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, parents and single parents, and marital status.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access