Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Second Advisor

Drew Moser

Third Advisor

Scott Gaier


The first year of college comes with many new experiences, including those that impact and change a student’s faith. This phenomenological study investigated how the first-year experience of students at a Midwest, faith-based, liberal arts college impacted faith development and particularly God images. Results revealed that the community around the students, the difficulties and struggles they faced, and the new perspectives they encountered led students to view God in more relational and loving ways than prior to their first year of college. The discussion introduces readers to opportunities for student development educators to engage with first-year students in their faith development on both the one-on-one and programmatic levels.