First Advisor

William D. Greenfield, Jr.

Term of Graduation

Summer 2007

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration






Foreign students -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Foreign Graduate students -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Universities and colleges -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vi, 117 pages)


Over the last several years, the number of international students attending colleges and universities in the United States has increased substantially. While considerable time, effort, and university resources are often devoted to the recruitment of international students, it is unclear how well institutions are meeting the needs of these students. This growing number of international students requires foreign exchange professionals and university administrators to better understand the reasons why international students pursue higher education in the United States and the challenges they face.

This exploratory case study is to examine the challenges international graduate students encounter in adjusting to their new status as graduate students. Six research questions framed this study: What difficulties do international students face in their first year in graduate school? What adjustments do they need to make in their first year in graduate school? What challenges do continuing international graduate students face? In what ways are perspectives of continuing international graduate students similar to perspectives of beginning international graduate students? What university support resources do international graduate students say are helpful? What PSU support resources are needed, but missing?

The relevant literature addresses academic, social, psychological, cultural, financial, and housing adjustment challenges. The data for this research were collected by interviewing and surveying international graduate students at PSU. Data were analyzed using standard methods of qualitative data analysis.

Consistent with the results from other research, this study reveals the following adjustment challenges: unsatisfactory accommodation; inadequate financial resources; lack of culturally specific programs that are intentional, flexible and accessible; unfamiliarity with the new educational system; limited English proficiency; undeveloped infrastructure for on-going orientation; insufficient health services information; and unavailability of international student mentoring programs.

The findings of this study have the potential to inform both researchers and practitioners as institutions attempt to create sufficient international student support services.


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