Date of Award

Spring 3-31-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Jodi Kaufmann

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce E. King

Third Advisor

Dr. Tiffany S. Russell


Study abroad has become an integral component of the American college experience. Although student participation is rising, the numbers do not reflect the current enrollment trends in higher education. Minority students significantly lag behind in study abroad participation, and this is especially true for African American college students. This study highlights the stories of African American women who successfully completed study abroad programs of one semester or longer. Through semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis of narratives, I examined how five Black American women navigated the study abroad process and uncovered what the experience has meant to them. Employing a womanist theoretical perspective, this study proposes that Black American women use agency to overcome obstacles they encounter while studying abroad, and are ultimately empowered by engaging in this unique experience. The findings from this study also suggest an expanded model of the study abroad process as it pertains to African American women. This study concludes with recommendations to international education professionals on how to better serve this population and guidelines for African American women on how to manage the study abroad process.