Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Rollins Access Only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Dr. James Johnson

Second Advisor

Dr. William Seyfried


The United States is still considered among the world’s foremost innovative and scientifically advanced economies. The promotion of advanced education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is a key strategy for ensuring the continued position the United States enjoys. Although the United States still serves as a magnet for innovative and ambitious people, the retention share of STEM graduates at all levels is decreasing. This study explores factors that lead foreign STEM Ph.D. graduates to remain in the United States after completion of their studies. By drawing upon the push-pull theory of migration and the theory of reasoned action, the attitudes of international Ph.D. STEM students and their perceptions of their intention to stay in the United States after graduation were examined. Results from a survey of 382 international STEM doctoral students in the United States provided insights into the factors that influence their intention to stay or leave. The results suggest that having a protean career approach and a positive perception of the political climate in the host country are factors that predict a student’s intention to stay in the United States (brain gain), while career opportunities and the strength of family ties in the home country, are factors that influence migration back to the home country (brain drain). The results of the study provide useful information for the U.S. government, as well as industries and institutions of higher education in the United States, to help increase the retention share of STEM Ph.D. graduates, which may affect the ability of the United States to maintain its innovative edge.