Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Chuanrong Zhang, John-Andrew Jolly-Ballantine

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


This thesis focuses on domestic and international students and their experiences of discrimination and prejudice while enrolled in graduate geography programs in the United States. This is an issue that relates to three important and interrelated trends in graduate education in the United States: increasing numbers of international students; growing efforts to reduce and eliminate discrimination and prejudice in higher education; and rising awareness of the role that academic “climate and culture” play in sustaining or changing current patterns of participation by students of diverse backgrounds. A web-based survey was developed and used to collect data from 420 students in doctoral and master’s programs in 41 states. The survey was designed to collect both, information about the types of prejudice or discrimination students experienced, and the setting in which experiences occurred. Just under a fifth of the respondents reported experiencing instances of prejudice and discrimination. The types reported revolved around gender, race, sexuality, national origin and a range of other categories. These were reported in the context of interactions with advisors, other faculty, and others students, as well as in other ways within the department, the university, and the community outside the university. The most interesting finding was that the greatest number of experiences involved interactions with other students and within the community outside the university. These findings suggest the value of addressing prejudice and discrimination within student cohorts and the local community.

Major Advisor

Kenneth Foote