Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Jennifer A. Morrow

Committee Members

Gary Skolits, Qi Sun, Kirsten F. Benson


Despite United States higher education institutions experiencing a 7.4% increase and a 3.1% increase in enrollment of international doctoral students (IDSs) during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, there are aspects of graduate education that are lacking for IDSs, including training specifically on writing (Sidman-Taveau & Karathanos-Aguilar, 2015). Without adequate writing assistance provided to IDSs, there is a potential that they may be less likely to persist and succeed in their doctoral programs (Sowell et al., 2009), which may dampen international graduate students’ contribution to the intellectual life (Smith & Khawaja, 2011) and diversity on campus (Williams & Johnson, 2011). Therefore, this needs assessment sought to assess non-primary English IDSs’ perceptions of their own English writing skills, their own English writing needs in their PhD programs, and their own perceptions of the anticipated employer expectations of their English writing skills post-PhD. These students were enrolled at institutions across the United States that had R1 Doctoral University Carnegie Classifications. The results from this study indicated that IDSs on average stated that they perceived they were not currently adequately prepared to successfully obtain employment for their desired careers post-PhD in 23 of the 25 areas of English writing measured in this study. Specific areas of English writing that IDSs perceived themselves to have a lower skill ability on included writing without surface-level errors, writing with clarity, and providing a strong argument in their writing. These findings are troubling, as most IDSs stated that these were also specific areas of writing they perceived as needing to possess strong skillsets on in order to successfully obtain employment in their desired careers post-PhD. The implementation of this study’s findings will allow for U.S. R1 institutions to provide targeted academic assistance towards students’ specific areas of need and be affirmed that they are adequately preparing non-primary English IDSs with the powerful English writing skills they need for a successful graduate school experience and career post-PhD.

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