Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Insufficient research exists concerning why active-duty enlisted noncommissioned officers do not pursue education past a high school diploma. Although higher education is becoming a minimum qualification in the civilian world, only 17% of enlisted servicemembers have higher than a high school degree. The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences, beliefs, and awareness of Army education benefits and the disconnect between higher education enrollment and active-duty noncommissioned officers. Two-hundred and sixty-five enlisted active-duty noncommissioned officers participated in an online survey and fifty-two noncommissioned officers participated in a one-on-one interview. Using a qualitative, grounded theory research design, both the survey and one-on-one interview question answers were analyzed to identify themes of Army education benefits awareness, usage, and reasons for not pursuing higher education past a high school diploma. The main themes identified from the interviews were 1) the challenges enlisted noncommissioned officers experienced when trying use their education benefits; 2) work schedule management; 3) allowing for informational sessions on education benefits; and 4) balancing life in pursuing higher education while being on active-duty. Additional work and research are needed to improve engagement, awareness, and use of Army education benefits to influence active-duty enlisted noncommissioned officer to gain higher education and complete their college degrees.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Dissertation Committee Chair

Justin Brogan

Committee Member

Michael Smith

Committee Member

Randal Wilson

Document Type


Houser_Dissertation 1.docx (886 kB)
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