Award Date

August 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Doris L. Watson

Second Committee Member

Kim Nehls

Third Committee Member

Stefani Relles

Fourth Committee Member

Maria Casas

Number of Pages



Despite substantial growth within the Latinx population and its access to higher education, there are still significant gaps with regard to degree attainment. In 2015, 36% of U.S. adults aged 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree. However, only 15% of those adults were Latinx, the lowest percentage amongst any racial/ethnic minority (NCES, 2016). While 67% of non-Hispanic White students entering four-year colleges complete their degree in six years, only 47% of Latinxs do so (Carey, 2009). These gaps represent an attainment disparity within higher education based upon population demographics. The purpose of this study was to address the Latinx degree attainment gap by examining the policy logic regarding the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation. The current federal policy, known as Title V, attempts to address the challenge of low Latinx degree attainment by providing a sum of grant funds for which eligible HSI institutions may compete. The current policy logic does not account for other issues outside of funding disparities, such as institutional culture. To better understand institutional conceptions of the Latinx degree attainment gap, this embedded, multiple case study examined institutional perceptions of the HSI designation. Institutional perceptions derived from upper-level administrator data at a four-year doctoral granting HSI and a two-year HSI. For the purposes of this study, there were two embedded cases of administrators: traditional administrators (director and above) and faculty administrators (department chair and above) from each institutional type. Using institutionalization as a guiding framework (Curry, 1992; Kezar & Sam, 2013), the data revealed how HSIs conceptualize their status and thus what other barriers in addition to funding resources may be inhibiting Latinx student success.


Hispanic Serving Institutions; Latinix Students; Public Policy; Title V


Education | Higher Education Administration | Public Policy

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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