Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Boyd Bradbury


Each year, hundreds of thousands of international students seek academic opportunities in the United States (U.S.). For international students, studying abroad can provide opportunities to build or enhance their English language skills, experience new cultures, study under different education models, and create long lasting friendships. However, if institutions lack appropriate services and resources, these opportunities can quickly become barriers. If campuses do not take the necessary measures to create inclusive and supportive learning environments which enhance opportunities for a sense of belonging, they are at risk of losing these valuable student populations.

Research around the experiences of international students is limited. This phenomenological qualitative study uncovered experiences of international students at a rural, Midwestern university to explore experiences that are beneficial to or detract from sense of belonging. Rural areas can pose unique challenges such as limited transportation, access to culturally diverse services and resources, and social events. Using semi-structured interviews, 11 participants were asked about their experiences of sense of belonging as international students. Data were analyzed using open and axial coding processes to identify themes.



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