Globally, collegiate students possess distinct drives, opportunities, and constraints that influence their choices regarding if, when, and where to study abroad. This research explored the study abroad motivations of US students who were studying in other countries as well as international students who were studying in the US. Data was collected using a cross-sectional survey constructed from pre-existing study abroad motivation instruments. Human capital theory and the push-pull model of international education flow were used as the theoretical frameworks grounding this study’s survey. A principal components analysis helped determine the most parsimonious number of latent motivation constructs in the survey. Using independent samples t-tests, significant differences were found in motivations related to language learning, academic enrichment, avoiding social limitations, and aspiration to work in host country; these factors were significantly higher among international students as compared to US students. An ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis found that when holding all other independent variables constant, international student status significantly predicted language learning as a study abroad motivation. This study’s results offer insight on how colleges and universities can craft global experiences suited to students’ desires to study outside their home country. It also brings awareness to the role of country of origin in motivational factors when studying abroad and encourages stakeholders to consider the importance of cultural and national background when engaging students in these opportunities.


higher education, international education, language education, survey research



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