Providing an overview on what is known about study abroad experiences and their impact, this section highlights graduate-level and discipline-specific research. This literature review illustrates the gap in what we know about graduate-level overseas experiences and describes how the GLO Survey will help to fill this knowledge gap.

Importance of Global Experiences & Competencies

The importance of developing global skills for success and employment in today’s workforce is increasingly clear.  The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) noted in its 2013 Graduate Education for Global Career Pathways that “global research and development networks, along with new technologies for communication and collaboration, make it essential for graduate students to develop global perspectives and skills.”  In 2014, Bista and Saleh described the perceptions of graduate students and alumni on the importance of global education in today’s economy, writing “global education plays an increasingly important role in enriching students’ learning experiences in US institutions of higher education.”  In 2017, IIE published research showing that study abroad has a positive impact on skill development, personal growth, and employability. In addition to the impact on students, these experiences also position students' home institutions to enhance their cross-border partnerships, research collaborations, and other forms of global engagement.  As highlighted by IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, U.S. and international partners alike are leveraging this research to help an increasing number of U.S. students go abroad and gain these vital global skills.

Need for Graduate-level Research

While the body of research on the impact of study abroad has grown in recent years, much of it is focused on the undergraduate level.  A workshop convened by the Council of Graduate Schools in 2016 determined that, while institutions have been increasingly asked to demonstrate the impact of international experiences, “there is no consensus on the best methods for tracking the outcomes of such experiences for graduate students, institutions, and the research enterprise.

Due to institution-level reporting challenges, only a small fraction of graduate students’ overseas education is captured in existing data collection efforts, creating a gap in knowledge about their experiences and impact.  Graduate students’ activities overseas remain “invisible” in the national discourse on U.S. study abroad.  This knowledge gap diminishes the ability of higher education institutions, researchers, and policymakers to 1) assess how well U.S. higher education institutions prepare graduates for today’s global workforce, and 2) inform the development of programs and policies.

The Graduate Learning Overseas (GLO) Survey aims to bring relevant stakeholders to the table to address this knowledge gap.  The survey will evaluate the current global experiences of graduate students and identify obstacles and best practices across the institutions and disciplines in the higher education landscape.  The results from this project will allow institutions to better collect and leverage holistic evidence to best serve the needs of their graduate students.

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Research on Global Experiences by Discipline

The specialized nature of graduate level study has inherently contributed to the reporting challenges of graduate students’ educational experiences overseas, as these global experiences also tend to be more specialized than those traditionally experienced at the undergraduate level. The selection of studies below - curated by field of study - discuss the implementation, evaluation, and impact of global experiences and competencies by discipline, focusing fully or partially on students at the graduate level.


Bosselman, R. H., Fernsten, J. A., Manning, P. B., et. al. (1989). The International Study Abroad Experience and Its Effects On Hospitality Students. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 13(3). Retrieved from

"Study abroad programs, long a part of the university educational experience, are increasing in importance as American students develop cross cultural knowledge which prepares them for careers in the hospitality and tourism field. This paper will discuss a single study abroad program in hospitality and tourism administration. This program, now in its third year, has proven to be very successful from the perspectives of students, faculty, and administration. An evaluation instrument was designed to measure student characteristics, the educational experience, socio- cultural experiences, and individual development. Data reported in this paper are from the 1988 summer program. Results suggest previous foreign travel and some foreign language skills enable program participants to more fully appreciate their study abroad experience. Nearly all students in the program commented favorably on their personal growth, increased interest in learning languages, and an increased receptiveness to different cultures and values. As the hospitality and tourism industry becomes a major participant in our global economy, students with cross- cultural experiences will be better prepared for management positions in the industry. Hospitality and tourism programs which are associated with study abroad programs will likely enhance their position with industry, and with their own educational institution."

Hallows, K., Wolf, P. P., & Marks, M. A. (2011). Short‐term study abroad: a transformational approach to global business education. Journal of International Education in Business,4(2). Retrieved from

"Owing to the growing interdependence of the world’s economies, preparing business students with the skills necessary to succeed in the global economy becomes vitally important.  Moreover, as work environments in the USA become more culturally diverse, and as businesses expand internationally, especially through mergers, acquisitions, and international alliances, these skills are increasingly valued by multi-national companies (Tchaicha and Davis, 2005). According to Alon and Higgins (2005, p. 501), 'Culturally attuned and emotionally sensitive global leaders need to be developed: leaders who can respond to the particular foreign environments of different countries and different interpersonal work situations.' ... Results indicated a significant change in students’ perceptions of their global business competence from Time 1 to Time 2, indicating the benefits of the short-term study abroad experience beyond classroom instruction and readings."

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Berka, S. (2011). The University of Rhode Island Graduate Dual Degree Program with the Technical University of Braunschweig – Its Added Value, Synergies, and Gains for Engineering Students. Online Journal for Global Engineering Education, 6(1). Retrieved from

"In recent years many universities have responded to the growing insight that a technical advantage of their graduates entering the global market place is gained by collaborating across borders and cultures worldwide (Grandin/Hedderich 2009, 363). Developing a 'collaborative advantage' is what will help U.S. research institutes remain a center of innovation while competing with centers emerging across the globe (Lynn/Salzman, 2006). This is true for the science and engineering side of competitiveness, as well as the linguistic and cultural competence (e.g. Alan Parkinson’s thirteen dimensions of global competence, 2009). On the science and technology side, an overview of the National Science Board entitled Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 is quite telling. It reports that collaborative international research is becoming the norm and is steadily growing, as indicated by the increasing co-authorship of journal articles. The rate of international collaborations in the United States is similar to China and Japan, but lower than Europe, where EU policies and incentives push for higher inter-European collaborations (0-10f.)... While broadening the scope of learning is also true for international undergraduate programs, when assessing the specific added values the international study, research and work experience provided each of the four graduate students examined in this paper, the following ten “added” learning outcomes can be derived. The first five are particularly relevant for STEM graduate students, the remaining five can be extended to undergraduate populations as well. [1] Broadened scope of research skills or methods... [2] Encountering different engineering cultures... [3] Leveraging gains abroad for engineering success at home... [4] Continued international student/faculty collaboration... [5] Being prepared for the global work place... [6] Gaining more depth and breadth by benefitting from complementary offerings... [7] Raising one’s linguistic proficiency skills... [8] Developing intercultural competence... [9] Strengthening self-efficacy... [10] Growing as a person..."

Parkinson, A. (2007). Engineering Study Abroad Programs: Formats, Challenges, Best Practices. Online Journal for Global Engineering Education, 2(2). Retrieved from

"In this paper a number of issues regarding study abroad programs have been discussed, based on a survey of approximately 25 schools. At least nine different formats were observed. A number of exemplary programs were examined in detail. From these, numerous challenges as well as best practices to address these challenges were presented. Many of these practices were implemented by BYU during the 2006/2007 school year, when the college sponsored six different programs. As the globalization of engineering continues, the importance of study abroad will increase. In particular, U.S. students must be familiar with other countries and cultures if they are to remain competitive in the global engineering community. [1] Colleges need to have a suite of integrated programs... [2] Programs should have a clear set of desired outcomes... [3] Colleges should be proactive in recruiting students... [4] Colleges should reward faculty who are willing to do this... [5] The college leadership needs to buy in with a long-term commitment... [6] Colleges should take an integrated approach coordinated by a centralized office... [7] Colleges should take advantage of any university infrastructure already in place... [8] Each program needs to involve several faculty... [9] Students are prepared before they go..."

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Anderson Sathe, L., & Geisler, C. C. (2015). The Reverberations of a Graduate Study Abroad Course in India. Journal of Transformative Education, 15(1). Retrieved from

"Faculty in a transdisciplinary graduate program in holistic health studies, which is grounded in transformational learning led a study abroad course in India. The focus of the course is on perspectives of health and healing in India, including an understanding of Yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic medicine, and Tibetan medicine. The purpose of this phenomenological research is to describe the experiences of 13 holistic health studies graduate students who participated in this graduate study abroad course. Qualitative data were collected from students at the time of application to the course, 1 month after returning from India, and 1 year later. In addition, student applications, post-trip reflection papers, photographs, notes taken by faculty at a 1-year reunion, and results of an electronic survey were used as data. Results suggest that students experienced “mind, body and spirit” transformations with reverberations on personal, community, and global levels."

Edmonds, M. L. (2010). The Lived Experience of Nursing Students Who Study Abroad: A Qualitative Inquiry. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(5). Retrieved from

"Nurse Researchers need to explore study abroad programs and identify their impact on the development of cultural competence and global perspectives in nursing students. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of nursing students who study abroad and to identify benefits and impediments that may be used to spawn future research and shape existing and future study abroad programs. The research question for this phenomenological study was 'What is the lived experience of nursing students who study abroad?' A purposive sample of nursing students was obtained and included participants who completed an elective study abroad nursing course to either England or Dominica between 2006 and 2008. Data collection was obtained from two sources: semi-structured interviews and written reflective travel journals. Four themes became evident as a result of becoming immersed in students’ written and spoken words. Those themes were recognizing, encountering, adapting, and mastering. Findings from this study suggest that there are vast benefits of study abroad programs for nursing students including, but not limited to, increased personal growth, awareness of diverse cultures, adapting despite an unfamiliar environment, and increased self-efficacy. These findings have strong implications for nursing education, practice, and research."

Inglis, A., Rolls, C., & Kristy, S. (2014). The impact on attitudes towards cultural difference of participation in a health focused study abroad program. Contemporary Nurse, 9(3-4). Retrieved from

"The changes in attitudes towards cultural difference of seventeen participants in a three-week community health study abroad program to Nepal were compared with the changes in attitudes of a similar group who did not participate in the tour. Participants in the tour group were surveyed eight weeks prior to departure and in the last week of the tour using a twenty-six item questionnaire employing a six-point forced-choice response scale. The responses of participants in the tour group showed significant shifts in relation to eight items compared while the responses for the control group showed no significant shifts. Observed student advantages of participation in this study tour included the development of independent behaviour and positive cultural adjustment and adaptation."

Rolls, C., Inglis, A., & Kristy, S. (2014). Study abroad programs: Creating awareness of and changing attitudes to nursing, health and ways of living in other cultures. Contemporary Nurse, 6(3-4). Retrieved from

"Multicultural society requires nurses to care for individuals and families with different cultural and religious values to their own. Study abroad programs for nursing students enable the students to be exposed to nursing, health and ways of living in other cultures. Students undertook a program at Chiang Mai University, Thailand through an international university linkage arrangement during 1997. Student concerns, expectations and perceived benefits of study abroad experiences were investigated in this non-experimental descriptive study, which involved a serial interview process incorporating three interviews before, during and after the program. Students undertaking the program acknowledged that they gained increased confidence and an understanding of different cultures. It was concluded that students did develop an increased awareness of and experienced attitudinal changes towards the cultures and health care needs of the country visited."

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Thompson, A., & Lee, J. (2014). The Impact of Experience Abroad and Language Proficiency on Language Learning Anxiety. TESOL Quarterly, 48(2), 252-274. Retrieved from

"This study aims to investigate the effect of experience abroad and second language proficiency on foreign language classroom anxiety. Particularly, this study is an attempt to fill the gap in the literature about the affective outcomes after experiences abroad through the anxiety profiles of Korean learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) while taking second language (L2) proficiency into account. Of particular interest was the analysis of an emerging theme in the second language acquisition literature: tolerance of ambiguity (e.g., Dewaele & Wei, 2012). On a computerized online survey, 148 Korean EFL participants answered the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS; Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986) and completed a background questionnaire to collect information regarding amount of experience abroad and English proficiency. Regression analyses show that experience abroad and L2 proficiency were jointly related to the subfactors of the anxiety scores, which had been previously calculated by a factor analysis. Additionally, the follow-up effect size analyses indicate differentiated practical significance in terms of the relationship between time spent abroad and anxiety scores. This study brings to the forefront crucial issues involving experience abroad, language learning anxiety, and English proficiency, especially with regard to the crucial concept of tolerance of ambiguity."

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Appelbaum, P., Friedler, L. M., Ortiz, C. E., & Wolff, E. F. (2009). Internationalizing the University Mathematics Curriculum. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(3). Retrieved from

"This article offers suggestions for achieving the internationalization of university mathematics-related curricular offerings. It presents learning objectives and related student outcomes, raises general issues related to internationalization, and then discusses how to incorporate the objectives and address these issues within the university mathematics curriculum. Specific recommendations include developing a new course, Cultural Aspects of Mathematics, to be team taught by the Departments of Mathematics and Sociology/Anthropology; creating a new Mathematical Modeling course within the mathematics major that includes solving problems from an international perspective; revising the existing Math History course to include more non-Western content; devoting approximately one quarter of the Mathematics Capstone Course to an examination of international and cultural issues; and working to increase the number of mathematics majors who take advantage of study abroad opportunities."

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Cobern, W. W. (1989). Worldview Theory and Science Education Research: Fundamental Epistemological Structure as a Critical Factor in Science Learning and Attitude Development. Scientific Literacy and Cultural Studies Project. 5.

"…With respect to the Kearney model of worldview, the principal assumption is that all human activity proceeds from a cognitive root, even affection. It is also important to note that the concept of worldview has no common sense counterpart, anymore than do the models we call photons or genes… The principal assumptions in my use of worldview theory in science education research are that the students in most, if not all, science classrooms have subtle, worldview variations; and that these variations constitute an important factor in science achievement and attitude development among students. This paper differs from many others in science education research in that I assume that studies in anthropology can be as important to science education as have been studies in the history and philosophy of science. The terminology used in this article is that of the cultural anthropologist… Worldview refers to the culturally-dependent, generally subconscious, fundamental organization of the mind. This organization manifests itself as a set of presuppositions or assumptions, which predispose one to feel, think, and act in predictable patterns…"

Martinez, A., Epstein, C., and Parsad, A. (2015). Evaluation of the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program. Final Report. Conducted under contract GS-10F-0086K (Task Order NSFDACS13T1393) to the National Science Foundation (Contracting Officer’s Representative: John Tsapogas). Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates. Retrieved from

"At the turn of the century, the National Science Board (NSB) noted that “international boundaries have become considerably less important in structuring the conduct of research and development” in science and engineering fields (S&E) (NSB, 2001). NSB called for increased U.S. government commitment to international S&E research and education, and acknowledged the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) leadership role in international S&E research and education activities (NSB, 2001). NSF’s Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program, which funded its first cohort of projects in 2005, reflects NSF’s commitment to international partnerships that can help address critical S&E questions. PIRE funds projects across a broad array of scientific disciplines, in an effort to catalyze long-term, sustainable international partnerships for collaborative research and education that will prepare a cadre of students and early-career researchers for strong leadership and engagement in global science and engineering. Projects support intellectually substantive collaborations between U.S. and foreign researchers in which the international partnership is essential to the research effort…The evaluation found evidence that PIRE is furthering its objectives: to promote opportunities for U.S. scientists and engineers to engage in international collaborations that enhance research excellence; to provide international research and educational experiences for U.S. students and faculty that will prepare the U.S. science and engineering workforce for global engagement; to strengthen the capacity of U.S. researchers and institutions to build and sustain international partnerships; and to support partnerships that promote excellence in science, engineering and education."

Tarrant, M. A. (2010). A Conceptual Framework for Exploring the Role of Abroad in Nurturing Global Citizenship. Journal of Studies in International Education 14(5). Retrieved from

"A conceptual framework, adapted from the Value-Belief-Norm theory, is proposed for understanding the role of studying abroad in nurturing global citizenship. The framework is oriented in concepts of justice, the environment, and civic obligations as key issues in the predictive validity of values, beliefs, and norms. The VBN approach is then applied to the design and experience of a short-term, faculty-led, educational travel study abroad program. By demonstrating how such theoretical contributions can help modify the instructional delivery and academic content of these types of study abroad programs, it is also possible to quantify how learning outcomes are demonstrably linked to key facets of the international education experience."

Tarrant, M. A., Rubin, D. L., & Stoner, L. (2014). The Added Value of Study Abroad: Fostering a Global Citizenry. Journal of Studies in International Education, 18(2). Retrieved from

"Few studies have employed experimental designs adequate for documenting the value added of studying abroad; that is, learning outcomes above and beyond that which may be achieved in domestic or traditional campus-based courses. Using a pre-/posttest, two-by-two factor design of course location (study abroad vs. home campus) by course subject matter (sustainability vs. nonsustainability), we found significant highest order interactions for three dependent measures of global citizenry. Results suggest that it is the combination of location (abroad) and academic focus that yields the greatest increases in specified learning outcomes for study abroad. Implications for political agendas, academic initiatives, and research directions are discussed."

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Social Science

Fairchild, S. R., Pillai, V. K., & Noble, C. (2006). The impact of a social work study abroad program in Australia on multicultural learning. International Social Work, 49(3). Retrieved from

"Internationalizing the US social work curriculum with programs of study abroad is an effective method to develop students’ awareness of the importance of global interdependence and increase multicultural knowledge. Results from the Multicultural Awareness/Knowledge/Skill Survey and pre-post focus groups indicate the merits of a US-Australian social work program of study abroad for master’s-level social work students."

Pugh, J. (2013). The Short-Term "Bridge Model" Study Abroad Program: Peacebuilding in Latin America. PS: Political Science and Politics, 46(4), 791-796. Retrieved from

"The conventional wisdom about political science international education assumes that students choose between short "island" study abroad programs that are accessible but have only superficial impact, and longer immersion programs, achieving a greater effect. This article argues that well-designed study abroad programs can combine the best of both models to achieve significant impact even in a short program. It proposes a "bridge model" for reconceptualizing study abroad not as a discrete event with more or less impact on student learning, but as a key intervention that furthers a student's overall development within an internationalized curriculum. The article examines the case of a peacebuilding study abroad program in Ecuador. It measures alumni perceptions of impact, objective outcomes, and alumni network development. The key finding is that solid program design and structured cross-cultural interaction produces the type of long-term effect and networks traditionally associated with immersion programs."

Rubaii, N. (2016). Bringing the 21st-century Governance Paradigm to Public Affairs Education: Reimagining How We Teach What We Teach. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 22(4), 467-482. Retrieved from

"Effective governance in the 21st-century demands a different set of competencies than prior generations, with greater emphasis on collaborative leadership, global intercultural competence, and the ability to respond nimbly to rapidly changing circumstances. Many public affairs programs have changed curriculum content to place greater emphasis on these topics. Given the extent to which such changes are altering how public issues are defined, how policies are adopted, and how programs and services are delivered as much as what those problems, policies, and programs are, then how we teach is arguably as important as what we teach. This article argues that current and future public administrators will be better prepared to work effectively across international and intercultural differences, respond to uncertainties and change, and transform traditional hierarchical silos of government bureaucracies into collaborative shared-power networks if faculty and programs model those forms of decision making and inclusion."

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