Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick H. Munley

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas D. Davidson


Stress, coping, black graduate students, help-seeking, race, appraisal


The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of Black graduate students related to stress and coping. Specifically, this study seeks to further examine the concept of cognitive appraisal and help-seeking intentions among Black graduate students. Research has indicated that Black graduate students face unique stressors related to race, in addition to general stress demands that can be experienced in graduate education programs. Regarding help-seeking, the literature has tended to focus on psychological help-seeking attitudes with African American populations and undergraduate students. This present study utilizes theories from stress and coping, as well as help-seeking and planned behavior, to explore how Black graduate experience stress and coping. The sample included 169 Black graduate students (master’s and doctoral) that were recruited from two research universities in the Midwest region of the United States using an online survey. The nature of the study was exploratory and descriptive in nature. Thus, qualitative (e.g., thematic analysis) and quantitative (e.g., MANOVA, Multiple Regression, Canonical Correlations) analyses were used. The results indicate that Black graduate students perceive graduate school as moderately stressful. Several themes emerged regarding participants’ appraisal of stressful situations and considerations of consequences for seeking help. Further, the results show that participants are more likely to seek help from parents, friends, partners/spouses, and professors, compared to other help sources. Results also reveal a moderate positive correlation between stress and coping. Finally, the results do not support the expectation that stress and cognitive appraisal would predict help-seeking intentions.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access