Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer


Universities across the United States are dealing with an alarming number of underage students drinking on or near campus. One prevention tool is having a comprehensive alcohol usage policy for students, which includes content as recommended by a number of national organizations focused on decreasing underage drinking on campuses. Yet little is known about the content actually contained in current university alcohol policies.

To this end, my research involved a content analysis of the alcohol policies from 71 purposefully selected universities across the country. These included institutions identified as "party schools" by the Princeton Review , and a similar sample of those not identified as such. The overall purpose was to examine the extent of which the content of these policies matched national recommendations. In addition, differences as broken down by party school status, athletic conferences/geographic location, institutional size and public or private status of an institution were examined.

A rubric was developed based on 15 content categories extracted from four sets of national recommendations, and 12 other categories surfacing during the research process. The policies of the 71 institutions were obtained on line, analyzed for content, and then compared to the 27 content categories.

Findings reveal that the content found in these 71 university alcohol policies does not match best practice recommendations from the four national organizations. Indeed, only a handful of universities had what could be considered a somewhat comprehensive policy, with the most comprehensive including only 14 (of the 27) content categories. Findings also revealed no significant differences in the total number of elements found when broken down by party school status, athletic conference, institution size, geography, and public/private status. Some significant differences were found when looking at individual policy elements, with smaller, Old Dominion Athletic Conference institutions as well as those institutions from the South having more of certain policy elements.

Given the inconsistency across the four sets of national recommendations and the lack of connection between those recommendations and the content within the institutional policies examined, a single list of policy content is offered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access