Thomas, 51, who signed a pledge to his mother to finish college when he left Indiana University as a sophomore to play in the NBA -- and later returned to the school to receive a bachelor's degree -- called the advanced degree a sign of success.
"I'm from that generation that believed education was the success model, not an NBA championship. Once I receive a master's from Berkeley, I'm a success," he said.
Thomas -- a member of the Detroit Pistons 1989 and 1990 NBA championship teams, a coach, front office executive, businessman and television commentator -- says his heroes growing up were Angela Davis, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, people with whom his mother Mary marched and worked.
"If you look at the NCAA Final Four graduation rates for black athletes, it's poorer than poor. There's no excuse for that," Thomas said.
His mother died in 2010.
Thomas will be in cap and gown at the commencement ceremonies May 19 to receive his master's degree in education, the Oakland, Calif., Tribune reported Tuesday.
Thomas is returning to television in June as host of "Unfinished Business with Isiah Thomas," which will focus on people who have overcome obstacles to achieve success, The Hollywood Reporter said Monday.