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International doctoral students, their advising relationships and adaptation experiences: A qualitative study

Katherine M Najjar, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Thirty four international doctoral students were interviewed to determine what types of advising and mentoring experiences were effective and beneficial, and what experiences had been difficult or unhelpful. The students reported a high level of satisfaction with their advisors and with their program of studies. However, during the interviews, students began to describe other factors that contributed to their well-being and their experiences. Issues described included language difficulties and problems developing relationships with other students. Although most students developed close, personal relationships with advisors or departmental colleagues, few students reported having large numbers of friends and associates outside of their academic departments. Topics that international doctoral students described as significant in their lives included specific obstacles encountered with immigration or visas, family and financial concerns. Several lived in poverty, and the precarious nature of their personal incomes and academic financing was frustrating and stressful. The students also spoke of the ways in which they had grown as scholars and as individuals. These experiences influenced how the students visualized their future positions as educators, global citizens, and community members. They were open to new ideas and experiences. The students frequently used language that was associated with high levels of self-efficacy and personal growth; in many ways they mentored themselves. Potential policy changes and additional areas of research are identified.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Najjar, Katherine M, "International doctoral students, their advising relationships and adaptation experiences: A qualitative study" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3732886.