Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Christopher R. Glass


In this era of increased globalization, it is important to prepare students to participate in world issues and a worldwide economy. Study abroad increases knowledge regarding international affairs, boosts access to valuable cross-cultural experiences, and promotes academic success, retention (Raby, Rhodes, & Biscarra, 2014), cultural awareness (Clarke, Flaherty, Wright, & McMillen, 2009), and professional growth (Younes & Asay, 2003). Community colleges educate nearly half of the nation’s undergraduate students, but offer disproportionately few study-abroad programs (Hardy & Katsinas, 2007). Little existing research has documented the study abroad experiences of community college students. Even fewer studies have addressed sparse community college participation in study abroad programs and approaches for improving it. No researchers have explored the result of study abroad participation on rural community colleges.

The researcher implemented a qualitative survey, interviewed leaders of community college short-term study abroad programs, and conducted document analysis aimed at developing sustainable short-term study abroad programs at rural community colleges. The findings revealed that rural community colleges would enhance faculty motivation and implement successful study abroad programs if administrators acknowledged and encouraged the efforts of study abroad leaders. The findings further indicated that study abroad programs at rural community colleges could be successfully and sustainably funded through various combinations of federal, state, and private initiatives. The results furthermore indicated that study abroad programs are more likely to be sustainable when structural changes are made in the college to support study abroad. Finally, the findings of the study indicate that anxieties on the part of students and their families could be eased if faculty leaders took the initiative to build trusting personal relationships with them.