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Press Release

Cal Poly Again Ranks First in the Nation in Study Abroad Survey

The California Boulevard Cal Poly campus entrance showing a trio of colorful welcome banners

Contact: Cari Vanderkar

805-756-2945; [email protected]

Institute of International Education shares data to start International Education Week

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly sent the most students on study abroad experiences among master’s-level institutions, according to the Institute of International Education’s annual statistical survey of U.S. campuses for the 2021-22 academic year. The report was released Nov.13 in celebration of International Education Week.

“It was truly inspiring to see the curiosity, engagement and excitement of our students as they pursued study abroad opportunities as we were climbing out of the pandemic,” said Cari Vanderkar, Cal Poly’s senior international officer and assistant vice provost for international programs. “We are thrilled to receive this ranking for the second time and look forward to continuing to build additional avenues to support access for the high impact experiences studying abroad can provide.”

Students walk toward Spanos Theater in the heart of the Cal Poly campus
Since 2000, Cal Poly has ranked as a top sender in the nation among master’s-level universities for internationally bound students.

Cal Poly photo by Joe Johnson

Since 2000, Cal Poly has ranked as a top sender in the nation among master’s-level universities for internationally bound students.

In 2021-22 year, the most current numbers available through the Institute for International Education, Cal Poly sent 572 students abroad to 26 nations (including some multi-country programs). Participation was from Fall 2021 through Summer 2022, the first full year of study abroad participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Note that the Open Doors data does not include international students from Cal Poly or those who studied on more than one program.) Study abroad has rebounded further in the past year, with over 1,000 students having participated in programs from Fall 2022 through Summer 2023.

In the past two decades, the university also has ranked in the top 10 among those who study abroad for long-term (an academic year), except for during the COVID-19-impacted 2020-21 academic year. For mid-length programs, which run for a semester or a quarter, Cal Poly ranked third in the nation with 223 participants. It has ranked in the top eight since 2004-05. For short-term programs (eight weeks or less), Cal Poly ranked fourth in the nation among master’s institutions in 2021-22.

International Education Week (IEW) (Nov. 13-17 this year) celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences.

Cal Poly is celebrating International Education Week with a host of events to provide opportunities for the campus community to learn more about study abroad, international perspectives and participate in educational and cultural programming. A full list of events is available on the International Center website.

Cal Poly’s vision for internationalization is to provide foundational experiential learning, teaching, service and scholarship opportunities at home and abroad that will best equip graduates and the campus community at large to solve complex global challenges sustainably, ethically and inclusively.

The Institute of International Education is the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the U.S. It has conducted the Open Doors Report annual survey since 1919 and, since the early 1970s, it has been aided by support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Open Doors surveys about 2,000 U.S. universities and colleges with study abroad programs.

About Open Doors

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education, which has conducted an annual statistical survey on international students in the U.S. since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972. Open Doors also reports on the number of international scholars at U.S. universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic intensive English programs. Additional details on the Open Doors 2018 surveys and findings are on the Open Doors website.


About the Institute of International Education

IIE works to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.


About the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs builds relations between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen U.S. national security, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us. ECA sponsors the flagship Fulbright Program, the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for U.S. undergraduates with financial need, the Critical Language Scholarship Program in support of U.S. foreign language study abroad, and the EducationUSA network of more than 400 advising centers worldwide.