Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Gaier

Second Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Third Advisor

Connie Lightfoot


Pastors’ kids (PKs) have a very unique childhood experience with certain, inherent challenges, but there has not been any prior research on how this unique background impacts the establishment of their identity when they matriculate into college. The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics of and challenges to a healthy identity development that pastors’ kids experience during their years in college. Participants included current undergraduate students who grew up as pastors’ kids, and each was interviewed using the phenomenological qualitative methodology. Three primary themes that emerged from the interviews are discussed: the uniqueness of their faith development, the importance of a positive relationship with their father, and both negative and positive aspects of the life of a PK, as well as a discussion of how those themes factor into their identity development during college.