Understanding U.S. Graduate Student Mobility

Title: Who’s counting? Understanding the Landscape of Graduate Learning Overseas

Date: October 2019

Source: Institute of International Education

Authors: Jodie Sanger and Leah Mason

A recent report by the Institute of the International Education (IIE) examines the scale and scope of U.S. graduate students’ learning overseas, as well as institutions’ practices, challenges, and motivations. The report surveyed 205 institutions with a total of 795,062 enrolled graduate students for the 2016-17 academic year.

Key findings include:

  • Only 3.4 percent of graduate students, both domestic and international, participated in an overseas learning activity. Demographically, White students (69 percent) participated the most, followed by Black (13.8 percent), Hispanic (11.7 percent), and Asian (8.3 percent) students. Only 0.5 percent of Native American students participated in these programs.
  • The number of students participating in overseas programs reflects the overall graduate student enrollment in the U.S.
  • Graduate students studying business (34 percent) participated the most in overseas learning followed by health professionals (16.5 percent) and education (5 percent). Liberal arts and sciences represented the smallest share (2.4 percent).
  • The five most popular destinations for overseas learning were China (8.5 percent), the United Kingdom (8.2 percent), Germany (4.7 percent), Mexico (3.9 percent) and France (3.8 percent). The program duration was often less than 2 weeks.
  • Graduate students often pursue learning abroad that aligns closely with their academic and career pursuits. For this reason, the destinations and types of international work differ significantly from traditional study abroad programs tailored to undergraduates.

Finally, the authors discuss institutions’ methods, motivations, and challenges in collecting graduate students’ overseas learning data. Traditionally, tracking student mobility was concentrated at the undergraduate level and rarely conducted for graduate students. As graduate student enrollment increases, the authors emphasize the importance of tracking students’ learning to improve their overseas experiences.

To read the full report, please click here.

—Haelim Chun

Higher Education Today