Date of Award

Summer 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Committee Director

Desideria Hacker

Committee Member

Darlene Colson

Committee Member

Joy Cooley

Committee Member

Richard W. Handel

Committee Member

Robin Lewis


Previous studies have demonstrated that there are benefits for some African American students in attending an Historically Black College or University (HBCU) over a Predominantly White Institution (PWI); however, studies have not considered how results might be impacted by student status, traditional vs. nontraditional, or the degree to which a student is considered to be nontraditional (minimally, moderately, or highly nontraditional). The current study addressed this gap in research by examining differences between the HBCU and PWI environments for 336 African American traditional and nontraditional students for the following variables: social support, academic self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, role strain, ethnic identity, perception of faculty support, and satisfaction with college experience. The classification of student status was addressed using several pathways, including a categorical definition for nontraditional status (i.e., minimally, moderately, or highly nontraditional). The study yielded several important findings. First, the benefits reported by HBCU students compared to PWI students for self-esteem, increased faculty support, and positive academic self-concept were also found within the nontraditional population. Second, using different pathways for the classification of nontraditional students yielded significant changes in group membership and speaks to the need to further explore differences in the types of nontraditional students attending a PWI vs. an HBCU. Results between schools remained fairly consistent despite the different pathways for defining nontraditional status suggesting that differences between the HBCU and the PWI are independent of student status. However, results differed between nontraditional groups (i.e., minimally, moderately, or highly nontraditional) between schools for faculty support and self-esteem. The combination of school type and student status using a categorical approach has not been considered before and the results, although useful for better understanding the modern college population and differences between an HBCU and a PWI, are best viewed as a foundation for further research.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.


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