Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore


This study examined the factors influencing international students' election to study in the United States in general and at a regional four-year institution, specifically. Furthermore, it was designed to gather descriptive information about the barriers and challenges they face. A triangulation mixed methods approach was utilized based on a previously described push-pull model. The findings indicated that Availability of scholarships or work, cost and fees, and Visa processing and visa cost are the most difficult factors that international students face when making the decision to study in the U.S. This corresponded well with the qualitative responses from the open-ended questions, in which students identified visa and immigration policies, standardized tests, and financial challenges as the most common challenges they had to face. In addition, Family, safety, and recognition of quality were found as being the significant/important influences on international students' decision to study in the U.S. This corresponded well with the qualitative responses in which students identified Valuable and Flexible Education, Global exposure and culture, Exposure to field and research, and Opportunities as why they wanted to study in the United States instead of somewhere else. With regards to the institution specifically, students identified Cost and fees, Academics, Safety, and Affordability, among others as why they chose to attend EIU. Recommendations for college student affairs professional and the office of International Student and Scholars are also presented.