Setting the stage for master's level success

Comprehensive reading, writing, research, and study skills play a critical role in a graduate student’s success and ability to contribute to a field of study effectively. The literature indicated a need to support graduate student success in the areas of mentoring, navigation, as well as research and writing. The purpose of this two-phased mixed methods explanatory study was to examine factors that characterize student success at the Master’s level in the fields of education, sociology and social work. The study was grounded in a transformational learning framework which focused on three levels of learning: technical knowledge, practical or communicative knowledge, and emancipatory knowledge. The study included two data collection points. Phase one consisted of a Master’s Level Success questionnaire that was sent via Qualtrics to graduate level students at three colleges and universities in the Central Valley of California: a California State University campus, a University of California campus, and a private college campus. The results of the chi-square indicated that seven questionnaire items were significant with p values less than .05. Phase two in the data collection included semi-structured interview questions that resulted in three themes emerged using Dedoose software: (1) the need for more language and writing support at the Master’s level, (2) the need for mentoring, especially for second-language learners, and (3) utilizing the strong influence of faculty in student success. It is recommended that institutions continually assess and strengthen their programs to meet the full range of learners and to support students to degree completion.