Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-28-2020


This is a phenomenological qualitative research study that explores the essence of the international student experience while studying at a Master’s or Ph.D. level in the U.S. This study examined two main concepts: work experience and cultural transformation. The work experience component explores the professional development and acculturation process for international graduate students and the cultural transformation element aims to understand the cultural differences, self-identity, and transformative aspect from the participants’ experiences abroad.

Using purposeful sampling and a transcendental research design, twelve international students (five pursuing a Master’s degree and seven pursuing a Ph.D.) were interviewed in a chronologically structured format. The semi-structured interviews focused on the participants’ experiences with acculturating and adjusting to the U.S., their internship journeys and career aspirations, and lastly, a reflection of home and self-identify. Three larger concepts were developed to explain the phenomenon: expectations, costs, and outcomes.


International Students, Internships, Self-identity, Post-graduation, Career Development

Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Dr. Arlie Woodrum

Third Committee Member

Dr. Viola Florez

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Jenna Crabb