Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

William Hoffa


Not all students are alike, nor should they be treated as 'one size fits all' in study abroad. Students have different backgrounds, goals, and expectations of what they will gain from an international academic experience. Minority students face different types of challenges in study abroad than their non-minority counterparts.

This paper seeks to answer the question “does study abroad change the identity of African American students?” and examines the challenges of identity and racism and how those two factors may decrease participation rates of African Americans in study abroad. Students from Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan were surveyed before and after their short-term study abroad programs to determine their motivations for studying abroad, and also if their identity had changed in any way afterward. Students were later interviewed in order to gain deeper knowledge of their experiences and to help understand the African American study abroad experience.

Although their identities had not significantly changed, students were nonetheless forced to confront stereotypes and racial tension inside the United States, and gained a deeper understanding of the world. While their identities remained firmly intact, their self-concept and methods of identity negotiated were challenged, resulting in increased self-awareness.

The need for study abroad in American higher education cannot be understated; in order to ensure the continued success, prosperity, and longevity of the United States, it is imperative that students adopt an international worldview. Study abroad professionals must understand the student holistically in order to better design, implement, and sustain worthwhile study abroad programs so that students receive the most benefit from their sojourns.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Inequality and Stratification | International and Comparative Education | International and Intercultural Communication | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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