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Publication Date




Many barriers exist for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students pursuing advanced degrees. The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis has a higher than average graduation rate for AI/AN students. The purpose of this article is to understand the lived experiences of AI/AN students at the Brown School and how the experiences influence graduation rates.


This study collected data from Brown School alumni who were associated with the Buder Center between 1991 and 2013; nine interviews were analyzed.


Six themes were identified: 1) AI/AN student cohort, 2) social work skill development, 3) service to AI/AN communities and people, 4) success as balance, 5) cultural identity, and 6) resiliency.


Institutional supports were described by participants as factors that affected their success in the program; these combined with student characteristics, beliefs and attitudes influenced the high rate of AI/AN student graduates at the Brown School.

Document Type

Restricted Article

Original Citation

Thompson, K., Posey, A., Manshack, L. (2020). American Indian Social Work Students: Factors that Influence Success in Graduate School. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 17:1, 63-74, DOI: 10.1080/26408066.2019.1626786


Native American; American Indian; social work; higher education; graduate school; culture; student support

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