Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles E. Myers

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Second Advisor

Ken Engebretson

Department Affiliation

Clinical Therapeutic Programs

Third Advisor

Lawrence R. Crouch

Department Affiliation



Academic stress has been identified as one of the major concerns in current academic circles. Academic stress is an example of mental distress associated with anticipation or awareness of academic failure and/or the result of being in a given educational facility or pursuing academic work. Academic stress is a major concern because its effects are pervasive and have serious consequences. Research has shown that mental disorders, physical challenges, substance abuse and high rates of drop-outs are attributed to academic stress. Research has shown that the level of academic stress is highest amongst university students in general and international students in particular. Researchers have found that numerous factors such as personal, cultural, psychological, environmental, and gender factors as the causes of academic stress.Over the years, the number of students from the Middle East undertaking studies in international institutions has increased significantly. The increase has been attributed to the desire by the government of Saudi Arabia to transform the economy as envisioned in its blueprint dubbed Vision 2030. Despite the government allocating billions of dollars to fund higher education, it has been established that a significant proportion of Saudi Arabian students studying abroad have been unable to complete their studies successfully. The purpose of this study was to evaluate academic stress faced by Saudi Arabian students studying in international universities.

The specific objectives of the study were to determine the main cause of academic stress; to establish if there were gender differences in the level of academic stress, and; to identify the coping mechanisms used by the students. The study participants consisted of Saudi students enrolled at U.S. universities. Data for the study was collected using questionnaires. The questionnaires consisted of close-ended questions. The data was coded and analyzed using SPSS software. The analysis was done using descriptive statistics and t-test.

The researcher found that on average, personal, psychological and cultural factors did not significantly affect the level of academic stress faced by the students. The levels of academic stress amongst the male and female students in most instances were similar. The students used various coping methods such as religion and sports. In addition, making friends from other cultures and seeking assistance from their universities was very helpful to cope with academic stress.