Inside USD

USD Maintains No. 2 Study Abroad Ranking

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Enhancing the education experience while in an international location remains a viable part of the University of San Diego student experience according to recent data released by the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 2009 Open Doors report.

The university maintained its No. 2 ranking for the percentage of undergraduate students participating in an international study abroad trip. Listed among the Top 40 Doctorate Institutions, USD had 65.7 percent (830 students) of its 1,264 students who earned an undergraduate degree take an international study abroad trip. Only Pepperdine University (608 of 829, 73.3 percent) finished ahead of USD. Based on percentages, USD finished ahead of such institutions as Wake Forest (third), Notre Dame (eighth) and Stanford (13th).

Participation numbers for USD in 2009 were down from the previous year’s Open Doors study. In 2008, USD had 892 of its 1,127 degree recipients, 78.5 percent, study abroad, second only to Pepperdine (782 of 809, 96.7 percent).

Kira Espiritu, director of USD’s International Study Abroad program, noted that enrollment in study abroad programs decreased nationwide, but expressed confidence about USD’s programs based on current activity at the university.

“USD has maintained a high percentage of students who did study abroad,” she said. “Currently we have more students participating in semester-long programs than ever before.”

There are 358 students abroad this fall, Espiritu said, who comprise the largest group USD has ever sent in a single semester. Furthermore, she said, USD students are exploring more “less traditional” locations such as China, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, Finland and New Zealand.

USD runs international study abroad trips throughout the year — fall and spring semesters, January intersession and summer — and the most popular student destinations, Espiritu said, are Florence, Italy (semester), Barcelona and Hong Kong (intersession), and London, Paris and Guadalajara, Mexico (summer). Guadalajara (USD student pictured spending time with local children) is USD’s longest running international program and Summer 2011 will mark its 48th year of operation.

Being second in the rankings for the second year in a row, however, means Espiritu and her staff aren’t satisfied. They continue to seek ways to increase participation through the creation of new programs and enhancing existing areas.

“The Second Year Experience could definitely be a difference maker to help USD get to the number one spot,” said Espiritu about a program created in 2009 for incoming freshmen to sign up for an Intersession trip taken when they’re sophomores to one of four destinations: Barcelona, Florence, Hong Kong or London. “There are almost 200 students participating in the 2011 Second Year Experience and we anticipate more students participating in 2012.”

Espiritu said that a study abroad requirement for international business and international relations majors can increase participation numbers. The addition of international courses for students in such majors as engineering and the sciences, which she said have traditionally been underrepresented, should also help.

“We are hoping that with more opportunities in these areas, more students will be able to go abroad during their time at USD,” she said.

— Ryan T. Blystone

The application deadline for Summer 2011 study abroad programs is Dec. 15. To learn more about all international programs at USD, click here.

Photo courtesy of Luis Garcia

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