Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Curriculum

First Reader/Committee Chair

Fiene, Jay


While globalization, internationalization, and marketing in higher education were intensifying with an inexorable veracity, little was known about the strength of factors and the dynamics by which those factors that affect international students’ mobility operated. Previous studies used different and overlapping theoretical models, and findings were inconsistent and, in some cases, contradictory. The objective of the present study was to investigate what influenced international students’ choices to study at a comprehensive college in southern California, as well as, explore and propose a new combined conceptual model that could explain international students’ cross-national mobility. A two-phase explanatory sequential mixed methods design was employed. The first phase was quantitative, where data on 52 observed variables was collected from 618 international students. Findings suggested that international students were motivated to leave their home countries most strongly by their desires for personal fulfillment. It was also found that the quality of the United States education, as well as, the college reputation of quality, were the most important variables that affected students’ destination choices. Findings from Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) advanced a four-factor solution that consisted of Quality, Affordability, Access and Peace. Comparisons between population groups within the sample using Multivariate Analysis of Variance found that consideration of Access was more important to non-degree students. Conversely, Peace was more important to undergraduate and graduate students. Moreover, Peace was more important for Middle Eastern students, while Affordability and Access were more important for Asian students. Finally, Quality was more important to male international students. The quantitative phase of the study was followed by a qualitative one that employed transcendental phenomenological procedures. In-depth interviews with 11 international students were conducted. Qualitative findings supported and explained quantitative ones. Furthermore, two additional common sources of influence emerged, Becoming Somebody and Moving from the Familiar to the Unfamiliar. These, together with the four-factor domains identified by EFA, helped conceptualize the international student mobility model proposed in this study.