Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

James Burns

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Norma Goonen

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Rebekah Schulze

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


for-profit colleges, higher education, for-profit colleges, institutes of higher education, for-profit college graduates, proprietary schools

Date of Defense



This study aims to explore why students enroll in for-profit colleges, outline their student experiences and present their post-graduate outcomes of obtaining a degree (i.e., increased salary, career progression, etc.) from an FPCU. With the rise of for-profit colleges, issues arise such as questionable recruiting practices, dismal graduation rates, poor job placements and minimal income increase and high student loan default rates (Deming, Goldin, & Katz, 2013; Heller, 2011; Macqueen, 2011; Yeoman, 2011). The discourse surrounding for-profit colleges at times does not consider the FPCU graduate perspective – those affected most by the FPCU notoriety. In this qualitative study, I interviewed 12 FPCU graduates from the South Florida area. Four major themes emerged from the qualitative study. Access and Choice, which relates to students’ decision to pursue a higher education and the circumstances that influenced their college choice. The findings suggest that the research participants wanted to progress in their careers and sought employment opportunities. The second theme, Student Support, pertains to the student FPCU experience. The research participants reported that professor support was a substantial component of their student experience. The third theme, Degrees of Impact and Satisfaction, refers to post-graduate outcomes. This theme specifically centered on how the respondents perceived their culminating collegiate experience. The respondents reported to have had a positive experience and were satisfied with their FPCU student experience and degree. The fourth theme, Returns on Investment, considers the financial investment component. The participants indicated the severity of their student loan debt from graduating from an FPCU.

Keywords: for-profit colleges, institutes of higher education, for-profit college graduates, proprietary schools





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