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A journey towards professional integration – experiences of immigrant Ph. D. students in breaking down barriers to enter Canadian academia Open Access


Other title
Ph.D. students
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Shi, Wenying
Supervisor and department
Bilash, Olenka (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Wu, Joe (Elementary Education)
Brook, A. Paula (Educational Policy Studies)
Fleming, Douglas (Faculty of Education)
Mandin, Lucille (Faculty of Education)
Dunn, Bill (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation investigates the internal and external barriers and successes in career preparation of a small group of immigrant doctoral students. Through three cycles of a four-year action research investigation that integrates interviews, surveys, participant reflections and autoethnography, the data was interpreted through the lenses of critical pedagogy, socio-cultural theory, ecological theory and dialectic theory. The study reveals some of the intercultural transformations that take place in order to reconstruct professional autonomy and perceptions of empowerment during the process of breaking downing internal and external barriers. In order for immigrant doctoral students to achieve professional integration the study presents recommendations to university leaders, graduate supervisors and graduate students themselves. The primary goals are to deepen the understanding of various barriers experienced by professional immigrant Ph.D. students and to identify the changes that occurred in reconstructing their professional autonomy and in their perception of empowerment during the process of breaking downing various external and internal barriers towards professional integration. This study should provide new understandings of what Canadian doctoral education means to professional immigrants, where gaps exist in universities’ programs of studies and their implementation, and between students’ career preparation needs and the services provided through university career support. In light of Canada’s aggressive immigration policy, the findings point to the need to build an integrated career support system for immigrant doctoral students’ academic career transition success and encourage Canadian universities to reflect upon the humanistic and democratic values and approaches embedded in the internationalization of education. In addition, immigrant doctoral students may feel empowered by the stories being told and inspired by the insights and strategies revealed.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: A Journey towards Professional Integration
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