Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-11-2018


In 1965, the American Catholic school system had 5.66 million students, 13,296 schools and educated nearly 13% of all school-aged children. Fifty years later, Catholic school enrollments had fallen to approximately 1.93 million and a total of 6,250 schools, while more than 17% of the students enrolled in Catholic schools identified as non-Catholic. Although there appear to be several positive points of difference for selecting Catholic schools, nevertheless families are making other choices. In this exploratory study, I endeavored to understand the demographic characteristics, attitudes toward education as well as more general motivations of American Catholic parents, with a special focus on Hispanic Catholic parents. Keeping in mind the mission of these schools, I analyze how a Catholic school could be repositioned to better appeal to the desires of the most suitable market segments, while maintaining fidelity to the overarching purpose of the school. Illuminating gaps in parental understanding of the advantages of Catholic schools could generate an informative campaign to educate Catholic parents about the ideal qualities of a school. Better understanding of parental demand could allow Catholic school leaders to market their schools to a target market more congruent with their unique educational approach. Knowing more about the characteristics of demand has important implications for financial viability and the future of Catholic education in America.


Catholic schools, consumer behavior, marketing, classical schools, United States, Strategic management

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Arlie Woodrum

Third Committee Member

Scott D. Hughes

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew T. Seeley