Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Christine A. Nelson

Second Advisor

Debora Ortega

Third Advisor

D-L Stewart

Fourth Advisor

Sarah Hurtado


Islam, Islam in the United States, Muslim students, Praying at school, Ramadan, Spirituality


In the last two decades, Colorado's number of Muslim Americans (citizens and permanent residents) has substantially increased (Bowen, 2009a; Bowen, 2009b; Mohamed, 2021; Roberts, 2022). This increase is reflected in the growing number of Islamic community centers, emerging Islamic schools, mosques, grocery stores, Muslim cuisines, and the diversity of students in the post-secondary education system (Roberts, 2022). Although centralized data about Muslim college students are hard to find, their presence within the higher education system is well-known. Still, in Colorado, Muslims' religious, racial, cultural, and gendered experiences within the higher education system remained unexplored in the research. Therefore, this exploratory qualitative study examined the experiences of Muslim college students within four-year U.S. higher education institutions in Colorado. This research used Critical Muslim Theory (CMT) (Abdullah, 2013) as a theoretical framework to investigate how Muslim students navigate historically Christian higher education systems while maintaining and developing their religious Muslim cultural identities.

In this qualitative study, narrative methodology and interview methods were employed as data collection used to engage undergraduate and graduate Muslim college students from four-year institutions to participate and share their experiences. The overarching goal of this study was to inform the experiences of domestic and international Muslim students within the U.S. higher education system so that institutions and higher education professionals can understand the needs of their Muslim students and provide the necessary support system to help them navigate college campuses with ease and complete their academic programs of study successfully.

This study revealed five main findings. First, Muslim students take complex journeys navigating higher education institutions to practice their faith. Second, Muslim students struggle to find a balance between religious practices and their academic responsibilities. Third, this study revealed a lack of Muslim-friendly resources institutionally designated to accommodate the spiritual needs of Muslim students. Fourth, this study also found that Muslim students encounter subjugating perspectives in and out of classroom settings on college campuses. Fifth, for Muslim students, the purpose of higher education is rooted in their religious teachings, which they rely on to decide their fields of study at four-year colleges. Despite these challenges identified as findings of the study, Muslim students maintain an unyielding attitude to balance their religious practices and academic responsibilities at U.S. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kamal Gamada Ararso


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


229 pgs

File Size

1.6 MB


Multicultural education, Religious education, Religious history

Available for download on Saturday, December 13, 2025