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What will study abroad do for me?


Research has a lot to say about the benefits of study abroad.  The information below represents a tiny portion of scientific research on the value of study abroad programs.  

Guffy (2007) and Hilton (2007) identified the following as crucial business success factors:

  • globalmindedness and changed world views
  • ability and willingness to work and interact with diverse cultures
  • cultural sensitivity and the ability to communicate with diverse populations

An empirical study recently concluded that students who study abroad:

  • are more globally minded
  • communicate better across cultures
  • are more open to diversity
  • exhibit greater intercultural proficiency (the ability to successfully navigate different cultures)

than students who do not study abroad (Clarke, Flaherty, Wright and McMillan 2009).

But do students who study abroad already possess those qualities, or are they gained through a study abroad experience?  Two of the authors of the study mentioned above also performed a pre-and post-test of a semester-long study abroad experience, and concluded that students who study abroad:

  • become more globally minded
  • learn to communicate better across cultures
  • develop more openness to diversity
  • acquire greater intercultural proficiency

over the course of the study abroad experience (Wright and Clarke 2010).   Study abroad is directly responsible for these developmental changes!  Generally, empirical research shows the following about students who study abroad:


  • are more competitive in the job hunting process (Peacock 2005)
  • are better prepared for a global or multicultural work environment (Mor Barak 2005)
  • enhance their resumes (Toncar and Cudmore 2000)
  • are personally transformed (Dolby 2007)
  • are highly satisfied with the study abroad experience (Schmoll 2007)

Anecdotal evidence (strong hearsay evidence, but without empirical testing to back it up) suggests that students who study abroad receive higher salaries and better jobs than students who do not study abroad.  While no empirical evidence is yet available for this assertion, it makes sense, as businesses are increasingly serving customers abroad or sourcing supplies abroad.  But even if they do not have foreign customers or suppliers, companies want employees who can work well in an increasingly multicultural workforce.  Study abroad is a great way to gain skills that employers value!

Study abroad programs that are of most value are between four and eight weeks in length.  Programs of these lengths produce students with better navigational skills and knowledge of cultural context, improved academic performance upon return, and higher graduation rates (Sutton and Rubin 2010). 


Clarke, Irvine III, Theresa Flaherty, Newell D. Wright, and Robert M. McMillan (2009),  "Student Intercultural Proficiency from Study Abroad Programs," Journal of Marketing Education, August 173-181.

Dolby,Nadine (2007), "Reflections on Nation:  American Undergraduates and Education Abroad," Journal of Studies in International Education, 11, (2).

Guffey, Mary Ellen (2007), Business Communication:  Process and Product, Thomson South-Western:  Mason, OH.

Hilton, Genevieve (2007), "Becoming Culturally Fluent," Communication World, December, 34-36.

Mor Barak, Michalle E. (2005), Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace, Wage: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Peacock, Jessica Ivy (2005), "Corporate Recruiters' Perceived Value of Study Abroad and international Travel Experiences," unpublished thesis, North Carolina State University.  Available online at www.lib/  Accessed on October 30, 2008.

Schmoll, Heidi (2007), American Study-Abroad Programs in Germany and Austria:  A Comparison of Objectives and Perceived Learning Outcomes, Unpublished thesis, Bowling Green State University.  Available at; Accessed on October 29, 2008.

Sutton, Richard Co. and Donald L. Rubin (2010), "Documenting the Academic Impact of Study Abroad:  Final Report of the Glossari Project."  Presentation at the Association of International Education Administrators annual conference, Washington, DC, 16 February, 2010.  See

Toncar, Mark F. and Brian V. Cudmore (2000), "The Overseas Internship Experience," Journal of Marketing Education, 22(1) 54-63.  

Wright, Newell D. and Irvine Clarke III (2010), "Preparing Marketing Students for a Global and Multicultural Work Environment: The Value of a Semester-Long Study  Abroad Program,"  Marketing Education Review, Vol. 20, No. 2, 149-161. 

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Last Updated: Friday, August 02, 2013 12:21:07 PM