The race to recruit high-achieving students to attend colleges and universities continues to intensify. Institutions view these high-achieving students as a benefit given the prestige associated with their enrollment, which impacts everything from rankings to reputation to resources. Some institutions use scholars programs as one means by which to attract high- achieving students to their campuses, but little is known about scholars programs, why they are created, how they operate, or the role they may play in helping to meet broader institutional goals.

This exploratory study examines scholars programs through the lens of organizational decision-making literature in the context of the undergraduate admission process. A comparative case study of two scholars programs at two institutions informs the creation of a conceptual framework that can be used to study scholars programs (and other targeted student recruitment programs) in greater detail. Recommendations for future research and for practitioners show that while academic literature on scholars programs is scant, there is great opportunity for a deeper understanding of this higher education phenomenon.

Degree Date

Spring 5-15-2021

Document Type


Degree Name



Education Policy and Leadership


Dr. Sondra Barringer

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Harris

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Dupaul

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License