Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational and School Psychology

First Advisor

Rachelle Kisst Hackett

First Committee Member

Christina Siller

Second Committee Member

Linda Webster


Religion plays an important role in many cultures. Prior studies have demonstrated that religious involvement is associated with greater psychological well-being for college students. Prior research suggests that religiously involved college students have lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety, as well as higher academic performance. The primary purpose of this study was to examine potential direct and indirect effects of religious involvement on depression and academic performance of graduate students in education, by testing models involving stress and depression as potential mediators. Multiple regression statistical analyses examined relationships between the level of religious involvement and the psychological status of graduate students using responses to the Belief into Action Scale (BIAC; Koenig et al., 2015; a measure of religious involvement), the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) and a demographic survey.

Hypothesized pathways linking religious involvement with depression and academic achievement were not supported. Based on the regression results, there was insufficient evidence to suggest religious involvement had direct or indirect effects on depression (through stress) or on academic performance (through stress and/or depression). Neither stress nor depression were found to be indirect pathways through which religious involvement might impact depression or academic achievement. While not the main focus of the study, the study did find a positive and statistically significant relationship between stress and depression.

Based on independent-samples t-tests, females were found to report being more religiously involved than males, on average, whereas males reported being more depressed than females, on average. Gender was associated with religious affiliation, based on a chi-squared test of association. In contrast to nearly half (49%) of the males indicating they were unaffiliated, just 21% of the females reported not having a religious affiliation. However, no gender differences were found in regard to stress, anxiety, nor graduate academic performance (GPA).

Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are offered in light of there being insufficient evidence to support the hypothesized mediational models. Still, the findings do suggest some recommendations for practice. In particular, the study found that male graduate students, as compared with females, in the field of education experience higher levels of depression. This finding has implications for college counseling centers and faculty in schools of education who work with male graduate students. Faculty should be made aware of this difference, watch for signs of depressive symptoms, and know appropriate procedures for encouraging graduate students in education to avail themselves of resources provided on campus not only for undergraduates, but for graduate students, as well.