Humanities Indicators
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Higher Education  >  International Education and the Humanities
 
U.S. Students Pursuing Study Abroad
(Updated November 2016)
  • In the 2013 academic year, 304,467 students enrolled at U.S. degree-granting institutions of higher learning participated in study-abroad programs for academic credit (Indicator II-22a). Student involvement in study abroad grew steadily from the mid-1980s, with over six times as many students participating in 2013 as 1986.
  • The increase in student participation in study abroad has kept pace with the substantial growth in postsecondary enrollment, except during the 2007–2010 period, when the percentage of participants as a share of overall enrollment declined. The rate of participation in study abroad has since rebounded, reaching 2.4% of the full-time student population in 2013, 3.5 times the 1986 rate.
  • The large majority of students who study abroad are undergraduates, but the share of study-abroad participants who are graduate students has increased from 8.3% in 2000 to 12.7% in 2013 (Indicator II-22b).
  • In 2013, almost 15% of study-abroad participants (44,414) were pursuing degrees in the humanities (Indicator II-22c). Study-abroad participants were more likely to be humanities students than students in the natural sciences, engineering, and the arts; however, the social sciences and business fields were better represented than the humanities. Business was the best represented, with students in this field making up almost 20% of study-abroad participants.
  • Making up almost a third of humanities students who studied overseas in 2013, majors in languages and literatures other than English were the most common type of humanities student to participate in study abroad (Indicator II-22d). Students of English made up the second largest share, 22%, of participating humanities students.
II-22a: U.S. Postsecondary Students Participating in Study-Abroad Programs, Number and Percentage of Full-Time Students, Academic Years 1986–2013*

* Years given are for the first part of an academic year. For example, 2009 refers to academic year 2009–2010. Breaks in the trend lines indicate that data are not available for years 1988, 1990, and 1992.

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org). Study-abroad student counts obtained from: Institute of International Education, Open Doors (New York: Institute of International Education, 1987–2001); and Institute of International Education, “Profile of U.S. Study Abroad Students, 2003/04–2013/14,” http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/US-Study-Abroad/Student-Profile/2003-14, accessed 10/1/2016. Enrollment data: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Table 303.10, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_303.10.asp, accessed 10/1/2016.

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II-22b: Graduate-Student Share of U.S. Participation in Study Abroad, Academic Years 2000–2013*

* Years given are for the first part of an academic year. For example, 2009 refers to academic year 2009–2010.

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org). Plotted values obtained from Institute of International Education, Open Doors (New York: Institute of International Education, 2001–2003); and Institute of International Education, “Profile of U.S. Study Abroad Students, 2003/04–2013/14,” http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/US-Study-Abroad/Student-Profile/2003-14, accessed 10/1/2016.

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II-22c: U.S. Postsecondary Students Participating in Study-Abroad Programs, Selected Academic Fields, Academic Year 2013–2014
Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org). Data provided by the International Institute of International Education.
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II-22d: Disciplinary Distribution of U.S. Humanities Students Participating in Study Abroad, Academic Year 2013–2014

* Includes linguistics.

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org). Data provided by the International Institute of International Education.

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