Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Moeschberger

Second Advisor

Todd Ream

Third Advisor

Skip Trudeau


Media plays a large role in the sexualization of women. The increase in sexual socialization of media has brought the hookup culture to college campuses. Moreover, it has led to several negative consequences in healthy sexual and identity development in females. Understanding that sexual well-being is vital in one’s development, higher education professionals have begun to take note of this increasingly important issue affecting the larger student body. Although sexuality is difficult to navigate for any emerging adult, it seems particularly complex for women who follow a specific religion. More specifically, Christian women from faith-based institutions face cultural pressures from both the hookup culture and the pervasive purity culture. In order to examine the influence of spirituality and media on female college students’ sexuality, a qualitative phenomenological study was conducted at a small, liberal arts, faith-based university in the Midwestern United States. The question used to guide the research was as follows: How do spirituality and media impact female college students’ perceptions of sexuality at a faith-based institution? The study consisted of 31 female participants within four focus group interviews. The results of the study found strong emerging themes including social incongruence, silence within the church, and increase in sexual and spiritual development. Suggestions for further research are included, along with the implications of these findings on the work of those within institutions of higher education.