Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Carolyn Ozaki


American Indian graduate students are experiencing a higher matriculation rate in higher education today; however, those rates are still lower than other underrepresented minority groups’ rates. The purpose of this study is to conduct exploratory research to investigate the decision-making process of American Indian/Alaskan Native professionals who persisted to graduation from their graduate programs. This study explores the participants’ graduate school experiences relating to education, tribal values, decisions, their social support, and perseverance. The theoretical framework of decisionmaking theory, i.e. Prospect Theory, was used to evaluate the educational decisions of the participants. Decision-making theorists include corporate culture in their discussions; however, those discussions are silent regarding ethnic cultures, specifically, American Indian culture. This study will encourage new threads in the decision-making theory discussions. The themes identified in this study are as follows: education and graduate school experiences, culture and tribal values, decisions, social support, and perseverance. From the data obtained from the interviews, two assertions were formulated. The data from this study can be used to inform educators, administrators, and staff about American Indian tribal values and their place in higher education.