Kennesaw State Education Abroad Program Ranked 8th in the Nation

December 05, 2014

Kennesaw State University students are among the most passionate in the country about international education, and they have the numbers to back it up.

For the third year in a row, the Institute for International Education ranked Kennesaw State University among the top ten master’s level U.S. institutions for student participation in education abroad programs. The University was ranked eighth in the country, with 766 students studying abroad during the 2012-2013 academic year.

IIE released the rankings in November as part of its 15th annual Open Doors report, which surveys approximately 3,000 accredited universities. According to the report, a record 289,408 American students studied abroad during the 2012-2013 academic year – a 2 percent increase from the previous year.

Kennesaw State University’s position as a top-ten master’s level institution reflects several years of increased focus on international education. In 2006, Kennesaw State ranked 36th in the Open Doors report, with 335 students participating in education abroad programs. By 2009 – the year Kennesaw State first appeared on the top ten – that number had grown to 618 students. With 766 students today, education abroad enrollment has more than doubled among Kennesaw State University students in less than a decade.

Several factors have contributed to this increase, says Iyonka Strawn-Valcy, Kennesaw State’s Director of Education Abroad & Exchanges, especially the introduction of the Global Learning Scholarship in 2007. Introduced as part of the University’s 2007 five-year Quality Enhancement Plan, the Global Learning Scholarship makes funds available to all Kennesaw State University students in good academic standing to help defray the costs of studying abroad. Award amounts range from $600 to $2,100.

“This scholarship has enabled students who otherwise would not be able to fund an education abroad experience to participate,” Strawn-Valcy says. “It has also enhanced awareness of study abroad opportunities for KSU students.”

She also cites the support of collaborating faculty members and colleges, the work of the Education Abroad Faculty Senate Committee formed in 2011, and increased training and support for the Education Abroad Office staff as reasons for increased student participation.

The Education Abroad Office and its parent organization, the Division of Global Affairs, are also helping encourage enrollment by creating new education opportunities to attract students.

“Building upon dozens of close international partnerships, the Division of Global Affairs is developing new and innovative models for students to study, conduct research and participate in internships around the world, particularly within developing economies and societies,” says Dr. Lance Askildson, Kennesaw State’s vice-provost of global affairs and chief international officer.

“The Division of Global Affairs is also launching Kennesaw State University's first international branch campus in Montepulciano, Italy,” he adds, “with the goal of offering articulated coursework for degree programs in the humanities, international business, architecture and the arts.”

With Kennesaw State University making it onto the IIE’s top ten list for the third year in a row, University officials are eager to keep the tradition going.

“International education and engagement is not simply an aspiration for students at Kennesaw State University,” Askildson says. “It’s an expectation.”

In addition to revealing the nation’s top universities for studying abroad, the IIE Open Doors report also provides valuable data about the current state of international education in the U.S. Some highlights from the report include:

1.5 percent of all U.S. college students studied abroad in 2012-2013, including 9.4 percent of undergraduates and 14.3 percent of graduates

The most common destination for U.S. students is the United Kingdom, with 12.5 percent of participants studying there

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics students are the most likely to study abroad, representing nearly one-fourth of all participants

View the full Open Doors U.S. Study Abroad Data.

– Patrick Harbin