Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2017


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Matthew Bundick

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyongo

Committee Member

Waganesh Zeleke


Graduate Students; Motivation


Different types and levels of motivation can play an important role for graduate students to continue their studies. The current research study was one of the few studies that examined if domestic and international graduate students differ on their level of different motivational orientations to continue their education. This study employs a quantitative research design intended to investigate different types of psychologically based motivational factors that contribute to international graduate students’ motivation toward completing their programs, in particular in relation to domestic students. More specifically, this study is guided by two prominent theories of motivation, Self Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Deci & Ryan, 2002) and Achievement Goal Theory (Nicholls, 1989; Elliot, 1997), to examine and understand how different types of motivation—such as intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, approach motivation, and avoidance motivation—affect graduate students’ motivation to continue their education in the U.S. These two theoretical frameworks provide a lens for understanding how different types of motivation that can propel graduate students to continue their education. Data was collected via online surveys with graduate students in the U.S. universities, including both international and domestic students. The Achievement Goal Questionnaire- Revised (AGQ- R, Elliot & Murayama, 2008) and Academic Motivation Scale (AMS, Vallerand at al., 1992) were used to operationalize the different forms of motivation. The findings from this study did not provide broad support for the notion that there are strong differences between international and domestic students in their motivational orientations toward completing their education, but it did suggest at least the possibility by way of the significant and marginally significant results that it may still be important to explore further understanding of the differences in their level of motivation among graduate students. Overall, this study has attempted to advance our knowledge about the different motivational orientations held by international graduate students in relation to continuing/completing to their program, and in relation to domestic graduate students. Finally, the study addresses some of its limitations and recommendations for future research based upon the results.