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Can We Double Study Abroad?

What Would It Take?

According to Open Doors 2015, 304,467 American students studied abroad for academic credit, an increase of five percent from last year. This represents the highest rate of growth since the 2007/08 academic year.

Although the total number is at an all-time high, it is still the case that only about 10 percent of all U.S. undergraduate students (including community college students) will study abroad by the time they graduate.

Growth Rate Needed to Double: The snapshot below indicates that a 16.5% growth rate per year is needed to reach the goal of 600,000 students studying in credit and noncredit programs by the end of the decade.

Open Doors report 2015 projections

Green = what it will take to double (16.5% annual growth)
Red = if we continue at 5% annual growth
Blue = if we had continued at 2% annual growth (the previous rate of growth)

Today's Numbers

  • Study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the past two decades, from in 1993/94.  However, the rate of growth had slowed in recent years.
  • Despite these increases, only about 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate years.
  • American students majoring in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) represent 23 percent of study abroad students, slightly outnumbering study abroad students in Business and Management and the Social Sciences, which made up just under 20 percent and 19 percent of study abroad students respectively.
  • Open Doors 2015 reports that U.S. students studied in increasing numbers in Latin America and the Caribbean, growing by 8.4 percent (to 49,312 students). After five years of declining numbers of U.S. students, Mexico led the region’s growth for U.S. study abroad, increasing by 19 percent to host 4,445 students.
  • The United Kingdom remains the leading destination for American students, followed by Italy, Spain, France and China – which remained the fifth largest host destination despite a five percent decrease.
  • The number of students reported as engaging in non-credit work, internships, and volunteering abroad (WIVA) continues to grow. In 2013/14, 326 institutions reported a total of 22,181 students participating in non-credit WIVA, an increase from the prior year’s total of 15,089 students.

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