Generation Study Abroad | About

About the Initiative


"International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century resume." – Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO, IIE

Studying abroad is one of the best ways American college students can acquire international experience necessary to succeed in today's global marketplace.

According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange, 295,000 American college students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. While that may sound like a lot, it in fact represents less than 10% of the 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year.

Generation Study AbroadTM seeks to address that shortfall by bringing employers, governments, associations, and others together to build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities to tens of thousands of college students for whom traditional study abroad programs aren't working. Curious who is on board with Generation Study Abroad? You can see a full list of our Commitment Partners here.

Generation Study Abroad is an initiative, launched in 2014, of the Institute of International Education (IIE) to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade. IIE is investing $2 million in the initiative and seeking funds to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions. The initiative, which is timed to coincide with IIE's centennial in 2019, will highlight IIE's commitment to study abroad and encourage purposeful, innovative action to get more Americans to undertake a meaningful international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning, and non-credit educational experiences.

“Our Moonshot”

Our goal is ambitious, but we believe that leaders in education, business and government can work together to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad. As of Fall 2016, over 700 partners have joined Generation Study Abroad and committed to specific, measurable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal. They include: 408 U.S. colleges and universities from 48 states; 189 international universities and organizations from 50 countries; 23 education associations; more than 100 organizations including study abroad, K-12, and social network agencies; 18 country partners and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. We welcome new partners at any time.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the exchange of people and ideas. For close to 100 years, we have led efforts to expand opportunities for Americans to study abroad, including our flagship program, The Fulbright Program, on behalf of the U.S. government. We believe that peace and prosperity in the 21st century depend on increasing the capacity of people to think and work on a global and intercultural basis. As technology opens borders, educational and professional exchanges open minds.

February 21-24, 2016

AIEA 2016 Annual Conference Building a Better World: The Academy as Leader

March 11-15, 2017 in San Antonio, TX

99th NASPA Annual Conference

March 13 -14, 2017 – Miami

IIE Best Practices Annual Best Practices in Internationalization Conference

March 29-31, 2017 - Seattle

Forum on Education Abroad - The Forum's 13th Annual Conference

April 27–28, 2017 – Greenville, South Carolina

Men of Color National Summit

May 28 – June 2, 2017 – Los Angeles

NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference and Expo

June 6-9, 2017 – Las Vegas

NACE 2017 Conference and Expo

What is study abroad?

Generation Study Abroad is redefining study abroad, to encompass for-credit, non-credit, short-term study abroad and experiential learning experiences at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

For the purposes of Generation Study Abroad, the Forum on Education Abroad’s definition is used: “Education that occurs outside the participant’s home country. Besides study abroad, examples include such international experiences as work, volunteering, non-credit internships, and directed travel, as long as these programs are driven to a significant degree by learning goals.”

The Generation Study Abroad Award recognizes individuals and organizations that encourage purposeful, innovative action to get more Americans to undertake an international experience by supporting IIE's "Generation Study Abroad," a 5-year initiative to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade.

Our Awardees:


District of Columbia Public Schools System (DCPS) received the Generation Study Abroad Award at the 2016 IIE Summit, in recognition of the outstanding contributions it has made toward providing equitable access to study abroad opportunities for K-12 students in Washington, D.C. In the spring of 2016, DCPS launched a fully-funded Study Abroad Program for 8th and 11th grade students. More than 400 educators and students enrolled in a world language course participated in short-term language immersion, global leadership, or service learning trips earlier this year. 


D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson


Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council - an international organization that promotes the Tampa Bay region internationally for trade and protocol, connects companies and institutions with international opportunities, and educates the public on topics related to the international economy. 

Learn more about the Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council


Shawn Carter Foundation - for the contributions that the Shawn Carter Foundation has made in partnership with IIE and the U.S. Department of State's Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to launch the Shawn Carter-Gilman International Scholarships.

Photo: Chrysler Group LLC awardee, Sergio Marchionne, with Shawn Carter Foundation awardee Dania Diaz

Learn more about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

The 1920s

University of Delaware Students studying abroad in Spain, 1920s

  • 1922: First IIE Reciprocal Student Exchange Program initiated between the U.S. and Czechoslovakia
  • 1923: Inaugurates an international exchange program between the U.S. and Great Britain, inviting debating teams from Oxford and Cambridge to visit American and Canadian colleges and universities.
  • 1924: Steamship lines install Student Third Class passage as a result of IIE advocacy.
  • 1927: Organizes a committee to supervise Junior Year Abroad scholarships and encourages the expansion of the Junior Year Abroad.
  • 1929: Administers more than 250 Fellowships for U.S. and foreign students worth almost a quarter of a million dollars

The 1930s

IIE Grantees from Barnard in the 1930s

  • 1930: Twenty American students receive grants to study at the Institute of Art and Archaeology in Paris in the first arts exchange program developed by the Institute.
  • 1934: Sponsors a Summer Institute in Soviet Civilization at Moscow University for American students.
  • 1935: Created the framework for Latin America-U.S. student and faculty exchanges through the Convention for the Promotion of Inter-American Cultural Relations.
  • 1936: American-Chinese Student Exchange established by the Institute, making it the first IIE study abroad opportunity for Americans in Asia.

The 1940s

President Truman and Senator Fulbright

  • 1947: IIE and CIES asked by U.S. Government to administer the Fulbright Educational Exchange Program.
  • Also, in 1947 arranges for more than 4,000 Americans to go to Europe to aid in reconstruction.

The 1950s

  • 1957: Surveys 1,298 colleges and universities on the subject of undergraduate study abroad, and publishes the findings in Foreign Study for U.S. Undergraduates, which continue as the annual publications "Academic Year Abroad" and "Short Term Study Abroad." U.S. Fulbright Students in Germany, 1950s




The 1960s

In the 1960s, the number of U.S. university sponsored study abroad programs increased exponentially. IIE formed partnerships with academic leaders to establish standards for effective programs.

The 1970s

1971: Under Project City Streets, IIE provides exchange opportunities for members of U.S. minority groups. Programs are developed for the Puerto Rican community of New York City and summer study opportunities are made available for Native American leaders to travel to Israel and focus on the kibbutz system and small scale industry in arid regions.

The 1980s

  • 1986: IIE and the Soviet Ministry of Education sign a letter of intent to negotiate an agreement for an exchange of U.S. and U.S.S.R. undergraduates. The following year, the first U.S.-U.S.S.R. student exchange takes place under joint sponsorship of the Institute and the Soviet State Committee for Public Education.
  • 1987: International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality and increasing the quantity of international exchanges in the literary, performing, and visual arts, merges into IIE.

The 1990s

  • 1990: IIE also joined the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and NAFSA: Association of International Educators to convene a National Task Force on Undergraduate Education Abroad. Its report, A National Mandate for Education Abroad: Getting on with the Task, calls for integrating foreign study into regular degree programs and assuring that at least 10 percent of U.S. undergraduates study abroad. Fewer than 2 percent do so now.
  • 1992: Chosen to administer new U.S. government initiatives, including a USAID-funded program for MBA students to learn and serve in developing countries.
  • 1993: Selected for the administration of the undergraduate portion of the new National Security Education Program, aimed at strengthening the international competence of U.S. citizens.
  • 1997: The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (JFMF) Teacher Program was established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Fully funded by the Government of Japan and administered by the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund office of the Japan-United States Educational Commission (JUSEC), the program provided American primary and secondary school teachers and administrators with short-term study tours of Japan. IIE was the contracting agency that coordinated promotion, application processing, preliminary selection, and pre-departure arrangements.

The 2000s

Brianna Moland

  • From 2001 to 2009: Freeman-ASIA (Freeman Awards for Study in Asia) supported over 4,000 U.S. undergraduates, with demonstrated financial need, from more than 600 institutions with their study abroad plans in East and Southeast Asia. The program’s goal was to increase the number of Americans with first-hand exposure to and understanding of Asia and its peoples and cultures.
  • 2001: The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program was initiated to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.
  • 2000- 2012: The Flinn Scholars Summer Seminar, organized by IIE’s European Office in Budapest, was a short-term study abroad experience in Central & Eastern Europe. The program, sponsored by the Flinn A Student Guide to Study Abroad 2013Foundation, is a component of the Flinn Scholars Program, which provides full scholarships for four-year degree programs offered through Arizona's public university system.
  • Also in 2001, IIE created the Andrew Heiskell Awards For Innovation in International Education to promote and honor the most outstanding initiatives being conducted in international higher education by IIENetwork member universities and colleges.
  • 2013: published A Student Guide to Study Abroad with AIFS and co-author Stacie Berdan.

Generation Study Abroad News

We send out monthly newsletters to keep our partners and network up to date. See links to the archive below:

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

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