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Thursday, December 7, 2023

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A 2018 SDSU study abroad group visited Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A 2018 SDSU study abroad group visited Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

SDSU Ranks in Top Three for Students Studying Abroad

The commitment to develop global leaders remains a priority despite the pandemic.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University is third in the nation for the number of students who studied abroad during the 2019-20 academic year, an often transformative experience that reflects the university’s ongoing commitment to developing global leaders.

The ranking in Open Doors 2021, released last month by the Institute of International Education (IIE), is SDSU’s highest ever in the annual report — four steps above the previous year’s ranking and the sixth consecutive year of a top-10 placement.

Only New York University, the perennial No. 1 institution of higher education in the Open Doors tally, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities surpassed SDSU’s total of 1,634 students studying abroad in 2019-20. SDSU was the only California university in the top 15.

"The increasingly global issues and challenges of our time have made exposure to new surroundings and cultures more important than ever," said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. "Our students tell us that studying abroad is a transformative experience for them, that it is highly valued by prospective employers, and that it deepens their understanding of themselves and the world in which they live. Study abroad is a priority at SDSU, and we encourage students to use it as a way to positively impact their local communities and the world.”

According to the Open Doors report, 162,633 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit in 2019-20.

Nationally, participation in study abroad programs in 2019-20 was down 53% from the previous year, due primarily to the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic that wiped out spring break and summer opportunities for travel. It was the first decline in the figures since 2008-09.

SDSU’s total was down 44% from the 2,940 students who studied abroad the previous year, and nearly 47% from the record 3,076 record tallied in 2017-18, when SDSU was ranked No. 5 nationally. Top five destinations were Mexico, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and Indonesia.

In the face of the ongoing pandemic, SDSU has pursued global learning in local and online settings to further the development of students who will understand the challenges facing the world and how to collaborate across borders to find solutions. In addition, SDSU recognized International Education Week this year with the 64th annual International Peace Village and the third annual binational/bilingual Re:Border 2021 Conference, among other events.

SDSU’s historic trends for high study abroad rates benefit from programs that send students abroad for a full semester as well as short-term experiences taking place during winter break, spring break and summer.

SDSU emphasizes an international academic experience as a key component to a robust 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 continue to report that their study abroad experiences have radically transformed their view of the world and the challenges that touch us all, regardless of where we reside,” said Cristina Alfaro, associate vice president of International Affairs. “These experiences have led them to reimagine their career trajectories and plans to make meaningful contributions to the world in the future.”

Alfaro added: “Global learning, in all its forms, helps students enter the workforce with cultural empathy and the the type of perspectives and skills employers are looking for, including cultural humility, critical thinking with a global perspective, strategic problem-solving skills, linguistic awareness and sensitivity, and the ability to innovate in the midst of change and crisis.”

Commitment to Global Education

SDSU continues to be committed to increasing access to global learning opportunities for students with financial need. SDSU encourages students to apply for partial or full scholarships, and it was recently named a Top Producer of Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship recipients. Gilman Scholarships provide funding for students who receive federal Pell Grants. Since 2001, 234 SDSU students have received Gilman awards.

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

SDSU as a Destination

SDSU is also a popular destination for international students seeking to study in the U.S. More than 1,800 international students from more than 98 countries attended SDSU in fall 2021.

“While the pandemic clearly impacted every aspect of life, including international education and international student mobility, the fact that more than 1,800 students studied at SDSU is a testament to their flexibility and resilience in pursuit of a global education,” said International Student Center Director Noah Hansen. “The value of their presence and the diversity they bring to the classroom, whether that be in person or sometimes virtual, is undeniable.”
SDSU students can learn more about studying abroad by visiting SDSU’s Global Education website.