This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Longitudinal Study: Examining the Effect of Campus Racial Climate and Sense of Belonging on First-Year African American College Students’ Depressive Symptoms




Williams, Brianna

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Human Development and Family Studies


There is limited quantitative evidence examining how race, sense of belonging and campus racial climate collectively affect first-year African American college students’ depressive symptoms. The present study explores these associations using longitudinal data spanning 1.5 years. Findings indicate that, at the baseline assessment, African American students reported more depressive symptoms and a more hostile campus racial climate. The hierarchical regression model indicated that sense of belonging accounted for the most variance in depression symptoms at follow up when race and campus racial climate were controlled. Autoregressive effects show that the predictors were separately associated with greater depressive symptoms at follow-up. Findings are discussed using Gusa’s (2010) White institutional presence as an analytical framework. Implications for how mental health professionals can support African American college freshmen are discussed.