Published: Nov. 14, 2011

MSU: Top 10 in study abroad participation, international students

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Stephanie Motschenbacher Advancement office: (517) 884-1129 cell: (517) 648-9945

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University is one of only four higher education institutions in the nation to rank in the top 10 for study abroad participation and international student enrollment, according to the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors Report.

MSU is the only Big Ten school to hold the distinction.

The report was released Nov. 14.

For the seventh year in a row, MSU sent more students abroad than any other public university, with 2,589 students studying overseas in 2009-10. In 2010-11, MSU hosted 5,748 international students on its campus.

"The rankings reflect our strategic effort to align our research and international education efforts to create world citizens,” said MSU President Lou Ann K. Simon. “From the beginning, we stress to students the importance of developing a global knowledge base in an increasingly interconnected world.”

For the 2010-11 academic year, international students represented 12 percent of MSU’s student body – an increase of 7.3 percent from the previous year – caused primarily by an increase in Chinese undergraduates.

MSU ranks ninth among U.S. public and private institutions in international student enrollment, which is good news for the Greater Lansing area. According to the Office for International Students and Scholars, international students pour $160 million into the local economy.

As MSU welcomes students from China, the university hopes to increase the number of students it sends to that country. In 2009-10 China was among MSU’s top 10 study abroad destinations, with 76 students studying there.

In support of the U.S. State Department’s “100,000 Strong Initiative,” this year Coca-Cola Foundation and Amway partnered with MSU to provide scholarships for students interested in studying in China. 

“Next year, MSU will offer one of our most innovative study abroad programming models, Freshman Seminar Abroad, in China,” said Brett Berquist, executive director of the Office of Study Abroad.

Recognizing the first year of college plays a crucial role in student success and readiness for intercultural learning, MSU has blended lessons from its study abroad programming with principles from on-campus freshman seminars. The result is an innovative program, Freshman Seminar Abroad, which was developed with the university’s associate provost for undergraduate education.

Berquist said participating in study abroad programs during freshman year is an important component to student retention, and is key to creating globally-minded students.

Students have a wide range of overseas locations from which to choose. In fact, 45 percent of MSU study abroad participants have chosen nontraditional locations in which to learn: Mexico, Japan, South Africa and Brazil.

MSU offers one of the largest catalogs of study abroad programs with more than 275 programs in 60-plus countries on all continents.

“Earning this level of recognition is only possible through collaborations – whether it is a corporate partner across the state, the partnership with our faculty or the collaboration with our partner institutions abroad,” said Jeff Riedinger, dean of International Studies and Programs. “It's nice to receive such public recognition from an independent source that confirms our progress.”


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.