The Benefits of Studying Abroad Begin in College and Continue Throughout Life

Berlin_Berlin_Brandenburg Gate_Siyanna Ahmadu
IES Abroad participants pose at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

The number of U.S. college students who received academic credit for studying abroad in the 2015-16 academic year reached a record high of 325,339 students, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors 2017 report. This was an increase of 3.8 percent from 2014-15.

Studying abroad provides students with the chance to learn about other cultures, make new friends, learn or improve their foreign language skills, and create lifelong memories. There are also career benefits to studying abroad, according to IES Abroad, a not-for-profit that has provided study abroad and internship programs to more than 125,000 students since 1950. I discussed studying abroad and its career and life benefits with Amy Ruhter McMillan, the senior associate vice president of marketing at IES Abroad.

Q. What are the long-term career benefits of studying abroad?

A. IES Abroad educates students to become global leaders through premier study abroad and internship programs, which offer students worldwide experiential learning opportunities that meet the highest standards of academic quality.

We’ve been measuring the career benefits of study abroad for years (including a 50-year-long study!), and we’re happy to report that more than 75 percent of IES Abroad students say their experience helped them develop key job skills.

By living and learning abroad, students develop highly sought-after professional skills—adaptability, communication, self-awareness, and confidence—that not only make them more hirable, but also launch their careers. Career benefits of studying abroad include increased hireability, higher starting salaries, jobs secured more quickly after graduation, and higher acceptance into grad school.

You can find more statistics and information on the benefits of studying abroad via the following resources on our website: Career Outcomes of Study Abroad Students, 50-Year Alumni Study, and Benefits of Study Abroad.

Q. Can you tell me about IES Abroad?

A. Founded in 1950 and based in Chicago, IES Abroad is a not-for-profit that has provided study abroad and internship programs to more than 125,000 students. More than 7,000 students study and intern with IES Abroad each year across IES Abroad, IES Internships, and Customized & Faculty-Led programs. The Study Abroad Foundation, a part of IES Abroad, also sends more than 1,000 students from China, Japan, and Korea to study or intern in the U.S. or abroad. IES Abroad offers 140 programs across 34 locations, and serves an academic consortium of 250+ U.S. colleges and universities. IES Abroad also offers $5 million in scholarships and financial aid. Learn more at

In regards to our programs, IES Abroad has seen a steady increase in the number of students studying abroad. In addition, for the past 10 years we have focused on diversifying the students who study abroad with us. As a result of targeted, sustained outreach efforts that we have made in inclusive advertising and programming, we have attracted more than 10,000 diverse students to study abroad with us—with the fastest and biggest increase coming from the Latino/Latinx student population.


A longer version of this interview is available in my career newsletter, the CAM Report. It has been published for more than 40 years, and provides job-search tips and strategies, information on in-demand occupations and employment trends, and much moreClick here to read a sample issue and to learn more about subscribing. Here are just a few comments from our satisfied subscribers:

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Copyright Andrew Morkes, College & Career Press/IES Abroad (photo courtesy of IES Abroad)