Date of Award

Summer 7-5-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.


doctoral students and recipients (Ph.D. holders); students’ migration and mobility; push and pull factors; decision-making; stay and return rates; brain drain; human capital; self-efficacy; expectancy; return readiness.


Like many developing countries, Nigeria has suffered from an extensive “brain drain” as its most able young people, especially those at the graduate or doctoral levels, seek educational and career opportunities in the mature Western economies. While other developing nations, especially China, have taken concrete action to stem and even reverse their brain drain, Nigeria has been slow to act. This study sought to illuminate the situation of Nigerian doctoral students in the Diaspora in order to chronicle how they wrestle with decisions about returning to the homeland as a means of formulating effective strategies for repatriation or, at least, constructive engagement with the Diaspora’s human resources. Many Nigerian doctoral students are faced with the following questions: Where do I go for graduate education? What do I study that will set me up for success? Where do I go after graduation, and what do I do? What attracts skilled manpower to the U.S. and affects their decision to stay or leave the host country to start their careers upon graduation? This research examines the determinants of sixteen Nigerian doctoral students and recipients’ non-return and return intentions following the completion of their doctoral study in the U.S. Non-return is a type of brain drain.

This study explored the experiences of Nigerian-born nonimmigrant doctoral students and recipients in U.S. universities and how they decide on their school, location, and field of study. It included a review of previous research on factors that influence Nigerian students who came to the U.S. for higher education and the processes, content, and outcome of their decision to either remain in the U.S. or return to the homeland after completing their studies. It also examined the challenges and opportunities that informed their decisions. A summary of trends in stay rates, human capital theory, migration, and the application of the brain drain concept is provided. The study concludes by highlighting the factors that elucidate the reasons Nigerian nonimmigrants or temporary residents migrate to the U.S. and decide to either remain there or return to their homelands after graduation.