Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Counselor Education

Major Advisor

Aida Midgett, Ed.D.

Major Advisor

Diana M. Doumas, Ph.D.


Raissa Miller, Ph.D.


Regina R. Moro, Ph.D.


Claudia Peralta, Ph.D.


Comprised of three individual articles, this article-based dissertation represents different aspects of a study involving a program designed to increase retention among master’s level Counselor Education (CE) students. Chapter One provides an overview of the dissertation’s purpose along with a discussion of how the studies comprising the dissertation extend the current literature on student retention in CE programs. Chapter Two discusses a qualitative study that explores students’ perceptions of a Social Integration Program designed to increase program satisfaction and sense of belonging among first-year students in a Master of Arts in Counseling program. The article in Chapter Two presents findings from focus groups conducted with first-year CE students regarding their experiences in participating in the Social Integration Program. Findings suggest that the activities within the program promoted a sense of connection and satisfaction, and suggest faculty engagement may help to increase student program satisfaction. Chapter Three explores the impact of the Social Integration Program on sense of belonging among first-year CE students through a comparison of two cohorts using a quasi-experimental design. Findings did not support the hypothesis that the program would increase sense of belonging. Methodological limitations of the study that may have contributed to the lack of differences between the cohorts are discussed at the end of Chapter Three. Chapter Four examines the effectiveness of the Social Integration Program in increasing retention rates among first-year CE students. This research was designed to address a gap in the literature regarding programs designed to increase retention rates among this population. Retention rates of students participating in the Social Integration Program were compared to retention rates of students in a control cohort. Findings indicate that the students who participated in the Social Integration program had significantly higher rates of retention from program orientation to fall of their second year of the program compared to the control cohort.