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Date of Award

Summer 6-25-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Ruth Zúñiga, PhD


In the United States, it is increasingly difficult to earn a livable wage with a high school diploma alone. With each decade that passes, the number of individuals striving for a higher education degree increases. Although individuals endeavor to achieve a higher education degree, ethnic, racial, and gender disparities continue to persist. Looking at the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity, research has shown that Latinas will increase from 16.4% today to 25.7% in 2050. Despite this increase, Latinas’ representation in higher education, specifically postbaccalaureate education, continues to be low. Research focused on Latinas in higher education usually addresses the barriers that prevent them from attaining their degrees; and although Latinas continue to face adversity when attempting to attain an education, they are succeeding—demonstrating their resiliency.

This observational, retrospective study examined the most prevalent intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cultural-specific variables that have been discussed in the qualitative literature that appear to contribute to Latinas’ academic success (Aldaco, 2010; Bordes-Edgar, Arredondo, Robinson Kurpius, & Rund, 2011; Sanchez, 2015). Nine variables were assessed using a hierarchical multiple regression analysis to determine if they correlated with academic success: academic self-efficacy, averaged high school, undergraduate, and graduate GPA, adolescent academic expectations, peer support, family support, number of mentors/role-models, attitudinal Familismo, Latinx cultural orientation, and Anglo cultural orientation. A total of 158 Latinas completed an online survey. The results of this study indicated that of all the factors only academic self-efficacy (β = .62, p < .001), and identification with both their ethnic, Latinx culture (β = .22, p < .001) and the dominant, Anglo culture (β = .17, p = .047) helped them achieve the postbaccalaureate degree. Furthermore, the intrapersonal variables explained 66.6% of the variance, R2 = .67, F(3,154) = 102.46, p < .001) in academic success, and the cultural variables explained 4.2% of the variance, Δ R2 = .042, Δ F(3,148) = 7.29, p < .001).

This study helped fill several gaps in the literature as it provided empirical evidence of strength-based factors that contributed to the academic success of Latinas, and it focused on Latinas in postbaccalaureate academic success versus high school or undergraduate academic success. Lastly, this study discussed potential explanations as to why the other six variables did not significantly correlate with academic success. Limitations of the study and future research directions are also presented.