Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Linda S. Hagedorn


Despite the fact that international students face challenges at the United States (U.S.) universities and colleges, little research exits on these student’s sense of belonging. This study investigates the factors of sense of belonging for international students and provides insights on factors like academic adjustment, homesickness, peer connection, etc. either hinder or enhance sense of belonging for international students.

The study uses multi-year of student’s data collected from all the first-year first-time students at a large public research-intensive university in Midwest. The analytical approach employed in this study includes descriptive statistics, ANOVA tests, factor analysis and structural equation modeling. First, descriptive analysis is used to describe the characteristics of the overall sample. Second, frequency analyses are used to study the patterns of homesickness in the student population. Third, ANOVA is utilized to compare the homesickness among different student sub-populations. Confirmatory factor analyses are employed to examine the fit between the sample data and survey constructs, and then structural equation modeling is used to examine the proposed model linking input and environment variables with the output variable. Multiple group invariance analyses for race/ethnicity are conducted to illuminate a comparison among different groups of students.

The conceptual framework guided this study is a combination of social, psychological, and student development perspectives. Previous research conducted concerning college students’ sense of belonging contributed to the identification of various variables for this study. This study has a foundation within the major studies on homesickness (Fisher, 1989; Poyrazli & Lopez, 2007; Sun, Hagedorn, & Zhang, 2016; Watt & Badger, 2009; Yeh & Inose, 2003) social and academic integration (Astin, 1993; Hoffman et al., 2002; Hurtado & Carter, 1997; Johnson et al., 2000; Tinto, 1998), and peer connections (Anderman, 2003; Hurtado & Ponjuan, 2005; Strayhorn, 2008).

The results of the study reveal that international students report the least sense of belonging when compared with domestic minority and domestic white students. Further, the results of the structural equation modeling indicated that academic adjustment, homesickness, peer connection, on campus living environment exert strong and significant impact on the sense of belonging of international students. I conclude by offering suggestions for practice, policy, and future research on undergraduate international students. The implications from this study indicated a critical need for university staff to implement prevention and intervention strategies in order to facilitate academic and social success for international students.


Copyright Owner

Anupma Singh



File Format


File Size

164 pages