A study on factors affecting Navy officers' decisions to pursue funded graduate education: A qualitative approach
Fowler, Kimberly M.
Thomas, Gail Fann
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This thesis examines if adjusting the service obligation for officers who pursue advanced-level degrees has the potential to increase returns to investment from Navy-funded graduate education. Using a qualitative approach of focus groups and one-on-one interviews with thirty-five Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) resident students, this thesis aims to identify the primary factors Navy officers consider when deciding to attend fully funded graduate education at NPS, how these factors vary by communities and years of commissioned service, and how the decision to attend NPS might be impacted by a change in service requirements. The depth of answers from the study participants provides valuable feedback about officers' perceptions of value and costs related to Navy-funded graduate education and highlights the differences in these perceptions among officer communities. As a result of the study, it is recommended that the Navy not add more than six months of service obligation, as doing so may have a negative effect on an officer's decision to accept a graduate education opportunity and, as a result, the decision to retain. The findings can be used by policymakers to make more informed decisions on how to fund and obligate service members who choose fully funded graduate education.
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