Career Counseling for International Students: Using the Framework of Social Cognitive Career Theory

Career Counseling for International Students: Using the Framework of Social Cognitive Career Theory

Gökçe Bulgan (MEF University, Turkey) and Ayşe Çiftçi (Purdue University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3451-8.ch014


International students are a group with diverse career needs and concerns. The challenges international students face (e.g., psychological and sociocultural adjustment issues, language barriers, sense of loss, financial problems, getting used to a new educational system) when they come to study in the United States, as well as their expectations of coming to a new country, may significantly influence their career needs and decision-making processes. In this chapter, the authors suggest social cognitive career theory (SCCT) as a framework for working with the undergraduate and graduate international student population by emphasizing intervention strategies and making specific recommendations.
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This chapter examines the use of the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) as the framework for engaging career counseling interventions and strategies for international students in U.S. undergraduate and graduate education. The term international student refers to students who study at an educational institution in a country other than their country of citizenship (Paige, 1990). Several colleges and universities in the U.S. may have seen their highest number of enrollments of international students in academic year 2016-2017 with an overall total of 1,078,822 (Institute of International Education, 2017). This figure represents a 3.4% increase in the total number of international students over the previous academic year.

The growing number of international students suggests that there is greater diversity of career needs and interests to which U.S. institutions must respond. The Institute of International Education reported that in 2017 of the total number of international students, 40.7% were in undergraduate studies, 36.3% were in graduate studies, 16.3% were in optional practical training, and 6.8% were in non-degree programs. Considering that moving to another country to pursue undergraduate or graduate education is an important career decision, there is need for greater understanding of the role of career counseling in international students’ success. Therefore, the authors present SCCT as a framework for better understanding and addressing the career needs of international students.

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