Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Second Advisor

Drew Moser

Third Advisor

Rishi Sriram


The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of residential colleges on student learning and development. Residential colleges are living-learning programs that have a few common characteristics: a commitment to multidisciplinarity; multigenerational organization (an assumption that students from all classifications—first-year through graduate students—strengthen the learning environment); live-in faculty leadership; and mission-centric spaces that speak to the holistic nature of the learning philosophy” (Penven, Stephens, Shushok, & Keith, 2013, p. 116). Two research questions guided this study:

  1. What is the impact of residential colleges on student learning?
  2. What is the impact of residential colleges on student development?

This study utilized a phenomenological design. The researcher interviewed 15 students at a large public university on the central East Coast of the United States. Three themes emerged: impact of structure, belonging and identity, and the impact of multigenerational and interdisciplinary living. These three themes connected to one meta-theme, community. Implications of this study include students’ desire to belong, positive outcomes of student-faculty interactions, and the importance of self-governance.