Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Monica Galloway Burke (Director), Aaron Hughey, Martin Stone

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


This quantitative descriptive study was designed to analyze levels of acculturative stress and sociocultural adaptation among international students at a non-metropolitan university in the U.S. in relation to college satisfaction and certain demographic characteristics. Surveys were used to measure international students’ levels of acculturative stress, sociocultural adaptation, including five subscales of sociocultural adaptation, and college satisfaction (N = 413). Demographic questions included gender, age, country of origin, length of stay in the U.S., degree level, and English language comfort. Results indicated a negative correlation between students’ levels of sociocultural adaptation and acculturative stress. In particular, increased competency among the five sociocultural adaptation subscales (interpersonal communication, academic/work performance, personal interests and community involvement, ecological adaptation, and language proficiency) decreased levels of acculturative stress among the students. In addition, increased sociocultural adaptation related to higher levels of college satisfaction, while higher levels of acculturative stress related to decreased levels of college satisfaction. Interestingly, social interaction among faculty, staff, peers, and community, as well as the importance of academic success, appear to be important factors that influence international students’ satisfaction with their experiences at the university. In terms of demographics, differences were evident among students’ English language comfort, specifically between students with lower levels of English language comfort and those with higher comfort with the English language. In addition female, non-traditional, and graduate students exhibited higher levels of sociocultural adaptation and higher levels of college satisfaction, while male, traditional, and undergraduate international students indicated higher amounts of acculturative stress and lower levels of college satisfaction. In light of these findings, universities should expand their outreach efforts in improving international students’ wellbeing and adjustment to U.S. college campuses as well as promote more diversity, cultural sensitivity, and multicultural competency for all individuals across campus by expanding intercultural contact. More studies are needed to further enhance understandings of international student experiences at U.S. colleges and universities


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