Publication Date

Spring 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Kristin B. Wilson (Director), Brian Meredith, and Jim Berger

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


In order to attract international students, it is important to know why students select a particular institution and how they experience the selection process. Additionally, there seems to be limited agreement among researchers on a conceptual framework for international student college choice and how it might differ from a model used to organize domestic students’ college choice experiences.

The purpose of this qualitative case study is to gain insight into the stages of college choice for international students by testing an expansion of the Hossler and Gallagher (1987) theoretical model that adds the push and pull factors related to the decision to study internationally. In order to do so, I answered the question, why do international students choose to study at a regional university in the United States?

The findings of this study indicate that family, advisors, cost, environment, quality, prospects, programs of study, admission, and language influence international students college choice in that order. These factors impact the students’ ability to study abroad and at a certain type of institution, during the predisposition stage; they influence the listing of potential countries and institutions during the search stage; and they favor one country and one institution during the choice stage. The college choice decision is a multivariate process in which one factor might be more influential than another, but all factors could push a student from a certain decision to select a country or institution.


Higher Education | Higher Education Administration | International and Comparative Education