As California State University, Chico drafted its new mission, vision and Strategic Plan, global education was a popular refrain among students, faculty and staff, many of whom agreed that opportunities to learn and engage with others around the world are key to the University’s identity.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) agrees, as it recognizes the nation’s most active colleges and universities for their participation in studying abroad. For the 14th year in a row, CSU, Chico made the institute’s Top 10 list for year-long participants.

In its most recent Open Doors rankings for the 2017-2018 academic year, the IIE listed CSU, Chico’s Study Abroad and International Exchange program at No. 7 in the nation for master’s colleges and universities with 59 participants studying overseas for long-term duration (a year or longer).

Jennifer Gruber, coordinator of Study Abroad and International Exchange, said the program provides a number of positive learning outcomes for participants, including increased academic focus, greater self-efficacy, and overall personal and professional growth.

“Study Abroad is a life-changing experience with enduring benefits for our students. The daily exposure to new languages, cultures, academic environments and civic engagement while abroad is truly transformative,” she said. “Study Abroad is a high-impact educational practice that our campus administrators, staff and faculty support and value—and this national ranking reflects those values. We’re very proud to once again be named a leading institution for year-long study abroad participation.” 

Once students return to their home campuses, they continue with a higher level of engagement in educationally purposeful activities, reporting having gained more from college than their peers who did not study abroad, Gruber adds. Multiple large-scale studies have also shown the high-impact practice actually improves graduation completion and retention rates of students.

A total of 315 CSU, Chico students studied abroad during the 2017-2018 academic year, with Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil, Costa Rica and Thailand as the top destinations among 38 available countries. Of those, 59 students were yearlong participants.

“Learning a foreign language, meeting people from around the world and being humble in the presence of a new society—it’s a life changer,” said mechatronic engineering and German major Anthony McKinney, after his experience in Germany. “You’ll never regret it.”

Other CSUs in the top 10 are top-ranked San Francisco State (183 participants), No. 3. Sonoma State (96), No. 5 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (72 participants), No. 8 Sacramento State (42) and tied for No. 9 Cal State Monterey Bay and Cal State Long Beach (38).

As a true international institution, CSU, Chico also serves as a destination for others around the world. In 2017-18, the University welcomed 332 students as well as 29 educators and scholars from 45 nations across the globe, with many others participating through its American Language and Culture Institute.