Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Fall 2020

Thesis Director

Richard L. Roberts

Thesis Committee Member

Angela Glaros

Thesis Committee Member

Krishna Thomas


The purpose of the study was to examine what challenges Black African graduate students face when adjusting to life in the United States. A secondary concern was to examine what coping strategies were used during the transition. A qualitative approach was used to interview the participants and through coding, develop themes related to their time as graduate students.

This study concluded that there were a number of issues that Black African graduate students face. The students reported that they experienced homesickness, culture shock, and discrimination during their time at school. Specific themes also emerged as to how they coped with these distressing experiences. Students utilized the following coping strategies: 1) support groups, 2) religion, 3) calling home, and 4) food acquisition. The study also found that students expressed shifting perspectives of their surroundings and being “othered” by groups they expected to join.