Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Lalas, Jose

Committee Members

Franklin, CarolAnn

Terrell, Raymond


Social sciences, Education, Black graduate students, Critical race theory, Microaggression, Outcast phenomenon, Racial battle fatigue, Racism


African American Studies | Educational Leadership | Higher Education


Black students are a visibly diminishing population among college degree recipients, yet many manage to succeed in graduate school. This research was designed to broaden the understanding of Black graduate students' challenges, successes, and navigation strategies with implications for counselors, faculty and mentors working with Black students and other students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Utilizing the social justice lens offered through critical race theory (CRT), the present study examined the written narratives of twelve former and current Black graduate students from predominantly white institutions.

Using the method of counter-storytelling, which provides a counter-narrative to the dominant portrayal of the Black graduate experience, the present study found that Black graduate students are exposed to frequent acts of microaggression from faculty and peers regardless of race. The findings fell into seven thematic categories including: feeling tolerated, invisible, isolated, and judged, trying to prove themselves, striving to overcome stereotypes, and representing their race as a spokesperson. The underlying thread common to all these categories as expressed by all participants was the feeling of being an outcast within their institutions, termed the outcast phenomenon.

This research illuminates the Black students' experiences in graduate school to inform educators, mentors, and counselors who work with them. Every person in institutions of higher education plays a role with outcast phenomenon. Further, the current study demonstrates the significance of critical race theory as a lens in understanding and analyzing issues related to the challenges faced by people of color in the field of education and broader society.


ISBN: 9781267289810