Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Second Advisor

Steve Bedi

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger


Responding to a gap in literature regarding married students and undergraduate student engagement, this study explored the experiences of eight married undergraduate students at a faith-based, liberal arts institution in the Midwest. In an effort to answer the question, “What is the impact of marriage on undergraduate student engagement?,” students shared their adjustments to married life in college; their interactions with peers, family, and university personnel; and their attitudes and behaviors in academic and social activities. In this qualitative study with a grounded theory approach, an original theory and a visual paradigm of the theory was derived from the data in order to represent the themes of marital adjustment and student engagement, which emerged from the findings of the study and connected with the literature. The results of this study suggested that marriage causes a number of factors, such as added responsibilities beyond academic studies; limited time; shifted priorities; and altered interactions with friends, family, and the campus environment. Students connected all of the factors with their student engagement, most often referring to limitation on available time and energy and/or a change of interest from which they invested in their coursework and social interactions.