Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Javier Tapia

Committee Members

Javier Tapia, Raquel Farmer-Hinton, Raji Swaminathan, Barbara Bales


Over the years, attention has been paid to student attrition in universities. Delving from that, the retention rate has been studied by a multitude of researchers using a variety of predictor variables. As the number of Saudi students in the United States has recently increased, the need for studying these students’ challenges and factors that limit their graduation rates has grown in importance. This study was conducted in order to explain the factors contributing to college retention of Saudi students studying in the U.S. The sample for this study focused on Saudi undergraduate students (senior students) in the school year 2015-16, studying in three different universities in the State of Wisconsin. This study first utilized a survey distributed to 45 students in order to see patterns or factors that may affect their retention in U.S. universities. Then, face-to-face interviews with a sub- sample of 10 students from the survey group provided rich information in regards to the factors influencing retention rates among these students. The survey results indicated that the personal and psychological scales had the two largest frequencies of occurrence, respectively. Conversely, the lowest score was registered for the financial scale. Face-to-face findings indicated that the participants’ persistence to complete their bachelor’s degree were due to such factors as personal and psychological (e.g., parents’ desire, goals and ambitions, educational value in gaining a better prospective career and social position, and self-efficacy and esteem), institutional (e.g., faculty interaction and university services and resources), social and academic integration (e.g., sense of belonging and peer support), cultural considerations (e.g., being open-minded to other cultures and finding a cultural ally), and financial influence (e.g., governmental and family support).