Challenges Faced by International Students in Pursuing Doctoral Study: A Case Study of Saudi Students in American Higher Education Programs

Ahmed Khawaji *

King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Many international students aspire to seek admission to higher education and pursue their studies, especially in the US. Therefore, institutions in general and American institutions in particular must realize the students' perspectives and offer support so they can face their unique problems during their education. This review aims to look into specific learning and adaptation-related experiences of international higher education students during a challenging transition to a large, public research university in the United States. The study was conducted at an American university in the southwest. The program enrolls students worldwide seeking master's and doctoral degrees in languages and social studies. Students may select from a wide range of concentrations, such as teaching English as a Second Language, bilingual education, and social justice, to name a few. These students are often encouraged to study interdisciplinary subjects to improve their understanding of the realm of education and how it is affected by society and politics. Professors teaching these interdisciplinary subjects who descend from various countries and teach in multiple disciplines hold controversial and sometimes even contradicting visions on education and research issues. This review explored the challenges and problems that Saudi international students face while pursuing higher education. A qualitative data collection and analysis method was followed to arrive at conclusions. 6 Saudi students were interviewed in detail. Study findings revealed various academic, social, cultural, financial, and family implications. It is concluded that Saudi international students encounter specific difficulties in US institutions, such as mentoring hardships, adjustment to a new educational system, lack of administrative support, and communication gaps between the supervisors and the researchers.

Keywords: Higher education, English education, second/foreign language, academic writing, challenges

How to Cite

Khawaji, A. (2023). Challenges Faced by International Students in Pursuing Doctoral Study: A Case Study of Saudi Students in American Higher Education Programs. Asian Journal of Education and Social Studies, 48(4), 60–72.


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