Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher and Adult Education


Adult Education

Committee Chair

Larry McNeal

Committee Member

Katrina Meyer

Committee Member

Reginald Green

Committee Member

DeAnna Owens


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand the experiences of adult learners who have returned to higher education to pursue an Executive MBA degree. Using narrative inquiry as the methodology, the experiences of the participants were documented. The narrative of their experiences included the experiences that led the participants to pursue the Executive MBA, their experiences as adult learners in the Executive MBA program, and their reflections on how their lives have been or will be affected by their participation in the Executive MBA program. Data were collected from 10 adult learners using individual interviews, non-participant observations, and document reviews.Four themes that emerged from the study were: (1) The undergraduate and professional experiences that lead adult learners to the Executive MBA program vary significantly; (2) Adult learners' experiences in the Executive MBA program are shaped by their disposition towards learning, the interpersonal dynamics of their cohort, and the adult learners' expectations of the program; (3) Adult learners make short-term sacrifices in almost all areas of their lives in order to successfully persist in the Executive MBA program; and (4) Adult learners anticipate personal and/or career growth as a result of their experiences in the Executive MBA program.Following a discussion of these themes, implications for Executive MBA programs and for adult learners who may be considering the pursuit of the Executive MBAdegree are shared. Four recommendations for future researchwere shared. These recommendations include: (1) The minority experience in ExecutiveMBA programs; (2)the role of entrance exams from the perspective of the adult learner; (3) the role of online learninginExecutive MBA programs; and (4) why doadult learners choose the Executive MBA?


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.