More is Better: The Impact of Study Abroad Program Duration

Mary M. Dwyer, President & CEO, IES Abroad
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, vol. X, Fall 2004 (pdf)

study abroad, duration, benefits, research, language, careers, mary dwyer, ies abroad, frontiers, journal, interdisciplinary

The title says it all: This study finds that the longer students study abroad, the more significant and enduring are the benefits in terms of language, academics, intercultural competence, personal development, and career choices. This conclusion is corroborated by recent research in cultural neuroscience.

This is an important finding since while the number of students studying abroad has increased dramatically over the last few decades, the percentage of those studying abroad for a full year has declined precipitously. And, as IIE Open Doors reports from the last few years suggest, study abroad has leveled off and may have plateaued.

If these trends continue, what are the implications for the practice of study abroad in terms of recruitment and preparation of students, program design, implementation and evaluation? How can educators at all levels integrate study abroad more deeply and systematically into the college experience of students in order to cultivate lifelong global learning and competence, which will only grow in importance as the 21st century progresses?

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