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Globe-Trotting Students Rank High for Studying Abroad

The new Open Doors Report ranks SDSU No. 1 in California among universities of its type.
Number of SDSU study abroad students, top 20 destinations
Number of SDSU study abroad students, top 20 destinations

Russia, Chile, Tanzania—San Diego State University students travel to all corners of the earth and their globetrotting adventures have landed the university with a national ranking for students studying abroad.

The Institute for International Education "Open Doors Report" ranks SDSU No. 1 in California for number of students studying abroad among universities in the Carnegie category of Research University, High Activity. SDSU also ranks No. 3 in California for all universities, the highest of all universities in the California State University system.

Nationally, SDSU ranks No. 22 among all universities for the number of study abroad students—up from No. 30 last year.

In 2008-09, the school year upon which the ranking was based, 1,674 SDSU students studied in a different country. In 2009-10, that number increased to 1,835, though enrollment at the university decreased by some 10 percent.

“For the world in which our students will be living and working, international experience is critical for a quality education,” said SDSU Provost Nancy Marlin.

“Not only does study abroad help students to obtain a global perspective on the world, it also helps them in their studies back at home. Research has demonstrated that students who participate in study abroad have higher continuation and graduation rates than those who do not.”

Most popular international destinations

The most popular destination for SDSU students studying abroad in 2008-2009 was Mexico, followed by destinations in Europe including Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and France. Costa Rica, China, Chile, Australia and Japan round out the top 10 most popular study abroad destinations for SDSU students.

According to the Institute for International Education, the most popular destinations for students nationally include:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. Italy
  3. Spain
  4. France
  5. China  
Mexico ranks No. 8 for students nationally.

More than just studying

San Diego State offers a number of programs throughout Mexico, including the cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara and southern Baja California.

“Many of these programs go beyond the traditional study abroad experience to include a number of service opportunities,” said Al Sweedler, assistant vice president for international programs. “Students are learning about the culture, language and the people in the region, but they are also helping rebuild infrastructure and giving back to the community.”

Every year, SDSU continues to expand the study abroad opportunities available to students, an experience which is now required by 25 academic programs or majors from international business to the Graduate School of Public Health. SDSU offers more than 335 education abroad programs in 52 different countries.  

In 2011, SDSU’s Center for Asian and Pacific Studies will launch a new program to Vietnam in cooperation with Vietnam National University. The four-week summer program features Vietnamese language training, history and cultural coursework, visits to government ministries, meetings with local business leaders and a weeklong excursion to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where students will travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels, Cholon Chinatown and the Mekong River delta.

SDSU top destination for international students

Not only are SDSU students traveling the globe, but SDSU has become a top destination for students worldwide.

The number of international students studying at SDSU has steadily increased over the past several years. SDSU had more than 1,908 international students enrolled during the 2009 school year compared with 1,872 in 2008 and 1,709 in 2007.

Nationally, the Institute for International Education reports new international student enrollment—students enrolling for the first time at a U.S. institution in fall 2009—increased 1.3 percent over the previous year.

SDSU welcomes most of its international students from India, China, Japan, Korea and Mexico. Nationally, the number of students from China studying at U.S. universities has increased nearly 30 percent.

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