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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Vanessa Hernandez is studying abroad for the fall semester at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Vanessa Hernandez is studying abroad for the fall semester at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

SDSU Ranks Top 5 in U.S. for Students Studying Abroad

The university remains the top school in California with more than 3,000 students studying internationally every year.
By Aaron Burgin

More than 3,000 San Diego State University students studied abroad during the 2017-18 academic year, placing the university in the top five in the nation for the number of students studying abroad and helping to develop global citizens who will work across borders to find solutions to social and scientific challenges.

Released this week, the Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education shows SDSU at No. 5 nationally for a second straight year. With 3,076 students studying abroad, SDSU also maintained its No. 1 ranking among California universities.

SDSU’s location on the U.S.-Mexico border and its recognized status as an international gateway are advantages in promoting study abroad and other global education and research.

“In today’s constantly changing global economy, it is critical for future leaders to continue broadening their perspectives beyond the borders of their home country,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “SDSU faculty and staff are committed to providing our students with transformational study abroad opportunities. This recognition of SDSU in the Open Doors report highlights our continued commitment to ensuring that all students benefit from these opportunities. 

“With greater awareness of the diverse lived experiences and cultural values of communities across the world, our students will become the global citizens, compassionate leaders and ethical innovators of the future,” de la Torre said. 

The Open Doors report’s release coincides with the beginning of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to publicize programs that prepare Americans for a global environment. SDSU hosts a series of related events this week, including the 63rd annual International Peace Village. 

The number of U.S. students studying abroad has increased steadily for the past decade and rose 2.71% in 2017-18, with 341,751 students reporting participation. 

SDSU’s study-abroad cohort rose from 3,039 to 3,076 between the 2016-17 and the 2017-18 school years. The number of students studying abroad each year equals about 10% of SDSU’s undergraduate population.

SDSU students traveled to six continents for study-abroad opportunities that ranged from a week to a full academic year. An international experience is required for 31 majors across six colleges, including for all students in the College of Health and Human Services and the Weber Honors College.

SDSU emphasizes an international academic experience as a key component to a well-rounded and impactful education and identifies it as one of the “high-impact” practices – along with research, internships and volunteering – that foster higher levels of academic achievement and retention in school and prepare students for a global workforce.

“Many students find studying abroad radically transformational, prompting them to consider new interests, courses of study or plans for the future,” said Cristina Alfaro, interim Associate Vice President of Global Affairs. “Studying abroad also helps students develop abilities highly prized by employers, including problem-solving skills, acting with cultural and linguistic awareness and sensitivity, the ability to maintain flexibility when facing challenges and language skills gained through communicating with native speakers.” 

SDSU is one of three U.S. universities selected to participate in the Global Century Project – a U.S. Department of Education initiative to assess how well programming promotes global learning – which continues through 2020. This project builds on SDSU's previous assessment initiative through the Global Perspective Inventory, which showed significant cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal growth among SDSU study abroad participants surveyed before and after their international experience.

Reaping the benefits

Kiyomi Nomura, a fourth-year business marketing major, is studying in New Zealand at the Auckland University of Technology for the current academic year. She said she is already reaping the benefits. 

“It gives me a better global understanding and perspective on how things work in different countries, as well as a more comprehensive understanding and appreciation for the education I receive at State,” Nomura said. “It has been a life-changing experience.”

The Open Doors report shows the profile of study-abroad students continues to become more diverse nationally. Thirty percent of students who studied in another country during the reporting year identified as an ethnic minority in the U.S., up by 1 percentage point. In 2006-07, the figure was 19%. At SDSU, nearly two-thirds of study-abroad participants were underrepresented students. 

“We want students who study abroad to reflect the overall diversity and richness of our campus community,” Alfaro said. “We are committed to working to minimize barriers that may be more prevalent for some students. We continue to work to create access and equity for study-abroad opportunities for all students.”

For students with financial need, SDSU encourages students to apply for partial or full scholarships, including the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for students who receive federal Pell Grants. The university’s number of Gilman scholars – 34 since 2001 – ranks in the top 20 nationwide. 

Additionally, SDSU awards millions of dollars of scholarships to help defray the cost of international study. Associated Students alone earmarks $400,000 for merit-based study-abroad scholarships. 

Destination for international students

SDSU is also a popular destination for international students seeking to study in the U.S. More than 2,700 international students from more than 70 countries on five continents attended SDSU in 2018-19. The number of international students studying in the U.S. increased by 0.5% to reach a record 1,095,299 in 2018-19.

“The thousands of students for which SDSU serves as a home away from home continue to share their cultural knowledge and perspective with our campus communities,” said International Student Center Director Noah Hansen. “And this year, we are represented by more countries then we’ve ever seen before, and more countries means more cultural knowledge with our campus. We're excited about that.”

To view the Open Doors report and companion data, visit the IIE website.

SDSU students can learn more about study abroad by visiting SDSU’s Study Abroad website

To read first-hand study abroad experiences from SDSU students, visit the SDSU Be International Blog

SDSU Ranks Top 5 in U.S. for Students Studying Abroad
The university remains the top school in California with more than 3,000 students studying internationally every year.