Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Anthony Picciano

Committee Members

Juan Battle

David Bloomfield

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Education Policy | Gender Equity in Education | Higher Education | Secondary Education


Opportunity Programs, SEEK, CUNY, New York, Educational Equity


What factors influence Black and Hispanic students’ time-to-graduation, and is it different for their special opportunity program peers? Using theoretical lenses including intersectionality, class struggle, justice, and sociological practice, this dissertation employs data from a large urban public university system to examine the relative impact of demography, academic preparedness, and financial background on students’ time-to-graduation performance.

Time-to-graduation, operationalized in this dissertation as the duration of years before a student earns a bachelor’s degree, for full-time students often represents an investment of time at the expense of earning a wage or salary in the job market. The economic gain that accrues to students who have at least a bachelor’s degree is well documented. Little attention, however, has been given to how much demographic, academic preparedness, and financial background factors account for student time-to-graduation. For this reason, this dissertation interrogates the relationship between the foregoing variables for Black and Hispanic students, and includes a stratification that bifurcates between traditional first-time, full-time students, and those enrolled in the special opportunity program at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) senior colleges known as the Searching for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) program.

In all, the most important findings in this dissertation include: 1) the SEEK program appears to decrease time-to-graduation gaps for Black and Hispanic students, 2) high school GPA and the English Regents exam are better predictors of time-to-graduation than the SAT Verbal and Math test scores, and 3) financial background as a predictor of time-to-graduation for Black students is no better than chance.