Identity salience hierarchy is the idea that individuals hold their important identities on a metaphorical scale—activating them when the right situation calls for it. Moreover, the hierarchy is related to the notion of commitment, otherwise defined as the number of people and meaningful relationships associated with an identity. For most college students, their salience hierarchy shifts over time as their commitment to the student identity typically increases. When a shift in hierarchy occurs, there is a transformation in identity. However, for racial, ethnic, and religious minority students, their capacity to develop an identity independent of their minority background raises questions about how their salience may or may not have shifted during their college experience. This thesis investigates the intersection of identity salience hierarchy, minority college students, and the college environment through in-depth interviews of former minority college students. The findings of the study identify the major junctures that minority students experienced that shaped their identity salience, in addition to analyzing distinctions across minority groups.


Dennis Waskul

Committee Member

Saiful Islam

Committee Member

Kyle Ward

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)

Program of Study

Sociology: College Teaching Emphasis


Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright