Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Higher Education

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Anthony Perez

Committee Member

Christopher Glass


Impostor Phenomenon (IP) is a feeling of illegitimacy or fraudulence despite evidence to the contrary. Most people experience feelings of impostorism in their lifetime, and it has been associated with several outcomes in the literature. Although there is some evidence higher education may facilitate feelings of IP, community college students have been largely excluded from the literature.

The current study expanded the research by examining the prevalence of IP in community college (CC) students and analyzing differences based on demographic variables: gender, under-represented minority (URM) status, first-generation status, Pell Grant eligibility, and disability. Comparisons were made between CC students and students in their first or second year at a public four-year university. The effect of demographic variables and possible interactions were also explored in the total college student sample. The relationships between self-reported grade point averages (GPA), intent to persist, and IP were investigated to see if IP or GPA were predictive of intent to persist.

This study utilized a quantitative non-experimental design to examine survey data. The Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (Clance, 1985) and a short demographic questionnaire were given online to 829 participants. The CC students comprised 63.3% of the sample, and they were from three different community colleges. A factorial analysis of variance was selected to examine group differences. A t-test was conducted to look at IP differences between CC and four-year university students, and a multiple linear regression with correlational analyses were utilized to look at the relationships and predictive power of GPA, IP, and intent to persist. Results showed most CC students indicated frequent feelings of impostorism. There were no significant differences between CC and the four-year university students. Students with a diagnosed disability had significantly higher levels of IP in both the CC and the total college student sample. There were also significant differences based on URM. There were no significant interactions. IP was correlated with intent to persist and IP levels were found to have some predictive value for intent to persist; self-reported GPA did not.