Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Victoria Follette

Second Advisor

Vanessa Edkins

Third Advisor

Rachael Tilka

Fourth Advisor

Robert Taylor


The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the global population with a considerable stressor resulting in significant loss of life, impaired health, disrupted social practices, and economic atrophy. While many have been impacted and are currently being studied, a population less frequently considered in the literature is that of online college students. Previous research has indicated the influence of several factors on college students’ well-being when coping with stress under typical circumstances such as coping strategies (e.g., problem-focused, emotion-focused, and avoidant/dysfunctional), experiential avoidance, and social support. Studies performed in the wake of large-scale crises highlight proximity to the crisis as another variable associated with student coping and well-being. The present study aimed to test these determinants of student coping and well-being in light of the present pandemic by examining online students’ exposure to COVID-19, coping strategies, experiential avoidance, and social support as predictors of distress and/or well-being. Results indicated partial support for COVID-19 exposure predicting distress as well as resounding support for experiential avoidance and dysfunctional coping strategies predicting distress. Problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping, and social support failed to emerge as significant predictors of students’ distress or well-being.