Culture influences basic motivational processes; however, Western theories of achievement motivation seem to have neglected the role of culture. They are inadequate when trying to explain student motivation and engagement across a wide range of cultural groups because they may not have the conceptual tools needed to handle culturally relevant information. Personal investment (PI) theory is proposed as a viable alternative that could be used across diverse cultural contexts. It designates three components of meaning: sense of self, perceived goals, and facilitating conditions as central to understanding investment in the educational enterprise. Moreover, it is an integrative framework that can shed light on both etic (culturally universal) and emic (culturally specific) dimensions of student motivation. Studies utilizing PI theory are reviewed revealing interesting etic and emic findings. Implications for cross-cultural research in educational psychology are discussed. Copyright © 2014 Division 15, American Psychological Association.