Bridging the Gap: An Examination of Environmental Factors and their Effects on the HBCU Student’s Decision to Study Abroad

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Kelcie Evenson


Access to education abroad among ethnic and racial minorities has been a hot topic in the field of international education for many years. Although researchers and educators agree that measures must be taken to provide equal access to study abroad opportunities to students of all backgrounds, little progress has been made toward this goal. Of the underrepresented constituencies in education abroad, African American students, particularly those attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), suffer the most from this inequality.

This study seeks to gain insight into the cause of the gap in participation in education abroad between African American students attending HBCU institutions and African American students attending Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). Multiple methods of data collection were employed to determine the perceived accessibility and desirability of these programs among HBCU students, as well as to identify environmental factors that might impact these perceptions. A combination of online surveys, phone interviews, and in-person interviews were used to collect data from many different stakeholders, including Morehouse College students and key personnel, representatives from third-party providers of study abroad programs, and a member of the Diversity Abroad staff.

The data reveal that no single environmental factor, institutional or external, is responsible for the participation gap. Instead, a combination of issues, often coupled with inadequate resources, are to blame for this discrepancy. Recommendations for policy changes and future research informed by this study are highlighted throughout this capstone paper.


Civic and Community Engagement | Educational Sociology | Higher Education | International and Comparative Education | Place and Environment | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

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