Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Kelli Jo Kerry-Moran, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gary J. Dean, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David M. Piper, D.Ed.


This study examined motivators for and barriers encountered by non-traditional adult students in their efforts to access, persist in, and succeed in obtaining higher education. It surveyed four-year institutions to examine the extent to which different categories of four-year institutions are meeting adult students' needs and thereby promoting their success. This study drew conclusions about best practices, services, and policies at four-year institutions that promote or hinder the success of non-traditional adult students. The literature review examined access, persistence, and success and looked specifically at how a broader understanding of higher education applies to non-traditional adult students. Further, the study made recommendations about how institutional leaders can better serve this audience by promoting success through adult-friendly programs, services, materials, and policies.