MSUToday
Published: Feb. 21, 2020

Spartans Abroad Program ranks in top 10 nationally

Contact(s): Zach Richardson Communications and Brand Strategy richa954@msu.edu, Caroline Brooks Communications and Brand Strategy office: 517-432-0920 brooks78@msu.edu

Studying abroad is a great way to learn and see different parts of the world. MSU’s education abroad program is ranked among the 10 best of its kind nationwide by the U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, MSU is the top-ranked public institution on the list. This year marks the first that U.S. News & World Report have ranked the institutions that made the list; in previous years, they were listed without a specific order.

“We were thrilled to receive this recognition for excellent education abroad programs from the U.S. News & World Report and to know that it was based on the nominations of senior level administrators at colleges and universities across the country,” said Opal Leeman Bartzis, the executive director of Education Abroad at MSU. “MSU has been a leader in education abroad for decades, which is a point of pride for our office but also for the many EA stakeholders right across campus.

“MSU is well known in this area because education abroad is truly a community effort here,” Bartzis said. “Program directors, faculty, academic advisers and countless staff in myriad offices work together to make it possible for Spartans to study, intern and engage in community-based learning internationally every year.”

The process to earn a spot on the list is extensive; input is provided by faculty from universities across the country including college presidents, chief academic officers, deans of students and deans of admissions from more than 1,500 schools. Institutions that have received more than 10 nominations are compiled and ranked in the list.

To qualify, universities must have academic work – a year or a semester, or an intensive experience equal to a course – and submersion in the host-nation’s culture, according to the U.S. News & World Report website.

“Worthy of most note is our faculty-directed programming, which is our most popular education abroad model and is undoubtedly the basis for our designation as ‘stellar’ by the U.S. News & World Report,” Bartzis said. “We were not surprised, yet extremely honored, to see that once again the hallmarks of these programs — high quality academic work, considerable interaction between students and host cultures and other factors connecting participation in education abroad to student success – were called out through the rankings.”

Importantly, the education abroad office is honored by the acknowledgement, but also sees it as an indicator that it is on a path to achieving higher goals. 

“We will continue striving to cultivate globally engaged leaders through collaboration, innovation and strategies designed to make education abroad accessible to as many students as possible,” Bartzis said. 

In the 2017-18 academic year, 2,755 MSU students participated in the education abroad program. Approximately 26% of undergraduate students participated in at least one education abroad program, which exceeds the national average 16%. MSU’s most popular fields of study in the program include STEM (36%), business and management (19%) and social sciences (19%).

Education abroad programs have a major impact on the student experience at MSU.

“By far one of the best experiences of my life,” said Maddie Robitaille, an MSU alumna that graduated in 2019 with a degree in business management. “I made so many new friends through the program which also added to my network of people in business.” 

Robitaille participated in the Winter Marketing Business in London program in Dec. 2018 through Jan. 2019. She said that the program benefitted both her education as well as her career after graduation.

“The activities and projects we did broadened my knowledge of international business along with learning how to diversify my thinking of how to market in different demographics,” Robitaille said. “Further into my career, I believe this experience will help me to adapt to different environments and enhance my communication skills with different cultures.”

“Overall, I gained a much broader perspective on how others live and interact throughout their communities and the role business plays within that.”

For more information on the various programs, scholarship opportunities and more offered in the education abroad program, visit the Office for Education Abroad.