Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Gaier

Second Advisor

Drew Moser

Third Advisor

Scott Barrett


The rate at which college students transfer from one higher education institution to another is steadily increasing. The purpose of the study was to develop a greater understanding of the relationship between a sense of belonging and the transfer student experience. The study implemented a mixed-methods embedded design. A survey adapted from the Basic Human Needs Scale was administered to participants to produce a Belonging composite score. The survey questions were followed by three open-response questions that allowed participants to explain further the relationship between their sense of belonging and transfer student experiences. Quantitative data revealed an above-average sense of belonging, yet qualitative data demonstrated significant complexity, challenges, and variance within the transfer student experience. While means comparisons demonstrated no statistical significance between participants’ gender or previous institution type, participants noted how factors such as on-campus housing, time of transfer, and campus involvement influenced their sense of belonging and overall transfer student experience. Therefore, the significance of recognizing the types of transfer, potential challenges, and complexity of varied experiences serve as the basis for implications discussed.