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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of undergraduate African American social science majors on the personal factors that influenced their retention in higher education. This was a qualitative study with 15 African American males who were enrolled in three universities in the University of North Carolina system. The data were collected using face-to-face interviews of approximately 45 minutes duration that took place on two separate occasions. They appeared eager to discuss their experiences as freshmen and the factors that influenced them to return to the university a second year. The main findings from this study were that African American males who persisted in the social science majors had inner determination, support from peers, mentors, parents, siblings, and extended families. They also had spiritual support, and learned to navigate through the social science curriculum with a commitment to a career in the social science field. The findings from the study contributes to the field of higher education by informing administrators about some approaches to facilitate the retention and graduation of African American males in social science majors. Future research studies might examine the persistence of other underrepresented students at other universities in social science majors using a mixed methods approach.

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