Alternative Title

Young African American men tell the story of how they achieved academic success

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


African American men-Education (Higher), African American men-Psychology, Academic achievement, Discrimination in education, Racism, Black, African American, Education, Achievement gap, Gender gap, Strengths-based


African American males fall behind their White counterparts in almost every measure of academic success. College completion rates for Black males are the lowest among all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. This exploratory study interviewed 13 African American men who were currently enrolled in college or who had graduated college. The goal of the study was to identify factors that these successful men identified as having contributed to their academic achievement. Thirteen men between the ages of 18 and 40 who identify as African American participated in semi-structured interviews that were recorded and then analyzed using a grounded theory framework. The study confirms the importance of family support as well as the need for school reform. A number of themes not previously identified in the literature emerged, including the role of peer support as a motivating force for academic achievement, and the benefits of externalizing racist stereotypes. Further explanation of the study’s findings, areas for future research, and implications for policy and clinical social work practice are discussed.




iii, 70 pages : color illustrations. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 51-53)

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Social Work Commons