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Students who study abroad often cite it as one of the highlights of their college experience, and it is easy to see why. Studying at a foreign university allows undergrads to stretch their wings, explore new cultures, and forge friendships with students and host families, all while earning college credit.
Goucher College in Maryland and Soka University of America in California hold the experience in such high regard that they require every student to spend time abroad before they graduate. The two universities top the list of schools with the most students studying abroad.
At the 10 schools with the highest participation rates, an average of 83 percent of 2011 graduates studied overseas. But those schools are in the minority.
On average, about 23 percent of 2011 college graduates studied abroad at some point, based on data reported by 339 ranked schools in an annual survey by U.S. News. The participation rate was less than 1 percent at a handful of those schools.
One reason many students choose not to study abroad is the cost, which includes much more than tuition and books. Students and their parents often end up footing the bill for airfare, housing, food, and in-country transportation. The schools with the highest study abroad participation typically offer stipends and scholarships to help make the experience financially possible.
[Read these savings tips for parents of study abroad students.]
Below are the schools with the highest percentage of 2011 graduating seniors who participated in a study abroad program. Unranked colleges, which do not submit enough data for U.S. News to calculate a ranking, were not considered for this report.
|School name (state)||Percent of 2011 graduates who studied abroad||U.S. News rank and category|
|Goucher College (MD)||100||110, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Soka University of America (CA)||100||49, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Queens University of Charlotte (NC)||94||20, Regional Universities (South)|
|Loyola University Maryland||84||2, Regional Universities (North)|
|Kalamazoo College (MI)||82||68, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Centre College (KY)||80||52, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Bethel University (MN)||75||24, Regional Universities (Midwest)|
|Elon University (NC)||71||2, Regional Universities (South)|
|Carleton College (MN)||70||8, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|University of Denver (CO)||70||83, National Universities|
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find special study options, complete rankings, and much more.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The study abroad data above are correct as of Feb. 26, 2013.