While the University of Delaware likes to take credit for organizing the first study abroad program during the summer of 1923, many at Indiana University believe a program initiated by IU in the 1870’s really marked the beginning of what has since become an educational revolution in the United States.
Regardless of which story you are inclined to support, the study abroad movement has grown beyond the imagination of even the most ardent believers in global education and has become the cornerstone of “experiential” learning at most colleges and universities.
A new report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) shows that the number of U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit increased to 304,467, during the 2013-14 academic year—a five percent increase from the previous year and an all-time high.
“We are excited to see that record numbers of students are taking advantage of international education opportunities, and we applaud the efforts of U.S. higher education as we work together to increase the number of American students who study abroad,” said Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “It is critical that we continue to make study abroad more accessible. These exchanges strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world. By increasing accessibility to study abroad, we are investing in our future and providing a forum to solve global challenges.”
According to the 2015 Open Doors survey, American students studying abroad in the United Kingdom, the “perennial leading host destination,” increased by six percent to 38,250. In addition, there was double-digit growth in the number of American students studying in Mexico, Chile, and Peru, while the number of U.S. students in Cuba rose for the ninth consecutive year, increasing 13 percent to 1,845.
Despite these increases, still only about 10 percent of U.S. students study abroad before graduating from college. American students majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields represent the largest proportion of students studying abroad at nearly 23 percent, slightly outnumbering business and social sciences majors at just under 20 percent and 19 percent of study abroad students respectively.
A number of local colleges and universities were among the schools with the highest undergraduate participation rates for study abroad. American University (58.9%), Georgetown University (56.3%), the College of William & Mary (46.1%), George Washington (43.2%), UVa (38.4%), and Catholic University (38.3%) were in the top 40 doctorate institutions. Loyola University of Maryland (65.4%) came in sixth among master’s institutions, and Goucher (119.2%*) and Washington and Lee University (84.3%) were listed as top 40 baccalaureate institutions.
Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades. In fact, Open Doors reports that 40 campuses had study abroad participation rates of more than 70 percent of their total student population.
The following are the top 15 doctorate institutions by undergraduate participation:
- Pepperdine University (86.5%)
- University of San Diego (77.8%)
- Northeastern University (67.2%)
- University of Denver (65.6%)
- New York University (65.3%)
- Yale University (62.6%)
- Wake Forest University (62.3%)
- American University (58.9%)
- Stanford University (57.6%)
- University of Notre Dame (56.9%)
- Georgetown University (56.3%)
- Duke University and Medical Center (54.3%)
- University of St. Thomas (52.8%)
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (50.8%)
- Dartmouth College (49.8%)
And the top 15 baccalaureate institutions by undergraduate participation:
- Arcadia University (152%)
- Elon University (106%)
- Lee University (89.1%)
- University of Dallas (86.3%)
- Wagner College (85%)
- Loyola University Maryland (65.4%)
- Whitworth University (64%)
- Villanova University (62.9%)
- Saint Mary’s College of California (60%)
- University of Dubuque (57.8%)
- Rollins College (54.5%)
- Carroll University, WI (53.1%)
- Bryant University (52.9%)
- Roger Williams University (51.7%)
- Butler University (49.5%)
And once again, NYU wins the top award for sending the most students abroad—4,504. The University of Texas-Austin (3,021), Texas A&M University (2,911), the University of Southern California (2,891), and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (2,719) rounded out the top five.
*Estimates of undergraduate participation rates may exceed 100 percent due to factors such as students studying abroad more than once, student attrition, and varying cohort sizes from year to year.