National Study

National Study of Student Hazing

Through the vision and efforts of many, the National Study of Student Hazing (Examining and Transforming Campus Hazing Cultures) fills a major gap in the research and extends the breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding about hazing.

Insights from the investigation:

  • Identify students and groups most at risk for hazing
  • Delineate prominent hazing behaviors
  • Examine student understanding of hazing
  • Identify campus hazing prevention efforts
  • Examine student hazing experiences in high school
  • Provide baseline data for measuring changes in hazing over time


The national study was conceptualized in 2003-2004 under the leadership of Elizabeth J. Allan, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, and in collaboration with the North American Interfraternal Foundation (NIF) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

In 2005, the NIF, with support from the NASPA Foundation and other project partners provided funding for the development and implementation of Phase I of this investigation. Mary Madden, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor at the University of Maine, joined the initiative and has been working with Allan to implement the study. As well, as Research Advisory Group was established to guide the project design and its implementation.

The national study was designed to occur in Three Phases as follows:

Phase I: Pilot Study

The pilot study (Allan & Madden, 2005) served as a springboard for the comprehensive national study. The purpose of the pilot study was to assess sampling strategies and test the effectiveness of recruitment strategies for respondents, develop a web-based survey instrument and test its reliability, test interview protocols, and conduct a trial analysis of data. The pilot study data were collected from February – May, 2005 from students and staff at four post-secondary institutions in the Northeast. Participating institutions included a small private college as well as three larger public universities.

Phase II: National Data Collection & Analysis

More than 11,000 students from 53 universities and colleges participated in this research. Data collection involved an on-line survey sent to a random sample of undergraduate students enrolled at participating institutions. Researchers also made campus visits and conducted interviews with more than 300 individuals including students, staff, and administrators at 18 campuses in five NASPA regions. Data analysis involved both statistical and qualitative methods.

Phase III: Development and Dissemination of Findings

Hazing in View: College Students at Risk is the first in a series of reports to be produced from this investigation. Subsequent reports will include a more in-depth look at research-based recommendations from the study as well as analysis of hazing and gender differences, regional and institutional differences, and more in-depth analysis of hazing within particular types of student groups.

More About the Survey

The hazing study survey was developed by Dr. Mary Madden and Dr. Elizabeth Allan at the University of Maine. The instrument was piloted in Spring 2005 with over 1750 college students at four colleges and universities. Following the pilot study, the survey was refined again in consultation with the Research Advisory Group. In Spring and Fall semesters of 2007 the survey was sent to as sample of undergraduate students at each of 53 participating colleges and universities across the United States. The national study findings are based on 11,482 students who completed the survey.

The survey includes more than 100 questions about student experiences with hazing behaviors, perceptions about hazing on their campus, awareness of hazing policies, consequences of hazing, and experiences with hazing prior to college. The survey is currently available for campus assessments.

More About the Interviews

The two lead researchers and two additional interviewers made campus visits during Fall semester 2007. Face-to-face interview were conducted with approximately 20 staff and students at each of 18 colleges and universities-a subset of the 53 participating in the national survey. Institutions were selected for interviews based on the following criteria: a) response rate to the survey; b) geographic location and c) type of institution. The final pool of institutions participating in the interviews represented large and small public and private institutions across NASPA regions.

Interviews were 30-60 minutes in duration and were audio taped and later transcribed for analysis. The total number of interviews exceeds 300 for the national study, adding to the 90 interviews conducted for the pilot study. Participants included student leaders, student affairs and athletics staff, and senior student affairs administrators. In advance of each campus visit, researchers worked with an appointed student affairs staff member to identify interviewees and schedule the interviews with male and female students involved in a range of student organizations and athletic teams and representative of the campus’ socio-cultural diversity.