Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Todd Ream

Second Advisor

Skip Trudeau

Third Advisor

Tim Herrmann


South Korean international students represent a significant portion of international students in the United States, yet research shows they have a difficult time integrating at American institutions. These students face challenges socially, culturally, academically, and emotionally when they come to the US. Many higher education institutions try to provide support programming and services for these international students, but the students still do not integrate into the larger student body. The present study sought to determine how South Korean international students understood integration and how they integrated at two American higher education institutions. The researcher conducted ten semi-structured interviews with ten participants, coded and transcribed the interviews, and looked for major themes. The researcher found stress, cultural differences, barriers, understanding of integration, and support significantly affected understanding of integration and the actual integration of the participants. The study highlighted the importance of English language support for international students, the need of a “buddy system,” the value of removing acculturative stressors, and the fact a definition of integration and how integration applied to a participant’s life may prove incongruent. Further research should study similar institutional types, different groups of international students, and American participants.