Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Enamul Choudhury (Committee Member), Jill Lindsey (Committee Chair), Yoko Miura (Committee Member), Charles Ryan (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


There is limited research documenting the outcomes of college admission policies that screen applicants with prior felony convictions. Without this data, there is no evidence to support that these policies make college campuses safer. Additionally, there is no information available on the effects of special admissions policies on the applicants or on academic performance of students with prior felony convictions. This mixed-method study examined the applications of 54 undergraduate applicants with prior felony convictions at a mid-sized, public institution in the Midwest to reveal demographic trends among the population, to reveal themes from written narratives, and to examine the academic performances of admitted students. The study revealed that none of the 37 enrolled students with felony convictions violated any student policies during their enrollment, indicating that individuals should not necessarily be perceived to pose a heightened level of risk just from having felony convictions. Analysis of written statements revealed that some applicants were distressed and some were ultimately deterred from the institution, indicating that the process may be stressful, marginalizing, stigmatizing, or discriminatory. Finally, descriptive statistics showed the enrolled students' average grade point averages and retention rates were low, indicating that students with prior felony convictions may need special academic and support services. The researcher recommended that the research institution discontinue general admissions policies that screen applicants with felony convictions and that all institutions assess their own special admissions policies.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations

Year Degree Awarded