Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2015


Downing, V. (2015). Navigating Spaces: Exploring the Impact of Study Abroad for U.S. Students of Color (Masters Thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Masters of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Debra Mullen. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Virginia R Downing


Opportunities for international travel are becoming a necessity for undergraduate students in the United States. Students are taking advantage of study abroad experiences that will impact their future and provide benefits that students may not be able to receive in the U.S. The increase in scholarships and variety of cost-effective study abroad programs are allowing students from a variety of different backgrounds the opportunity to travel, which before was only seen as an opportunity for the wealthy. As study abroad continues to grow as a high impact practice, so should the way administrators approach the impact this experience has for their students.

The purpose of this study is to explore the overall impact of study abroad for students of color that attend a predominantly White institution (PWI). Through a semi-structured interview protocol, qualitative interviews were conducted with five students of color who spent more than eight weeks abroad. The findings indicated that students of color have a significantly different experience abroad compared to their White peers. Participants were able to articulate their study abroad experience while reflecting on the impact it made on their remaining time on campus. Discussion of identities abroad and connections to international communities are discussed, as well as implications for Student Affairs practice. Recommendations for future research are presented.

Adviser: Debra Mullen