For a long time, empirical scholars focusing on education abroad primarily investigated single education abroad programs. However, in recent years scholars have increasingly turned their attention towards a comparison of program types and individual program components in order to investigate how these differences influence the outcomes of education abroad (Roy et al., 2019). This is a useful effort, as different programs have been shown to lead to different outcomes (see e. g., Van Mol, 2017 on the differential value employers attach to study abroad and international internships). Furthermore, individual program components likely also have an impact on the outcomes of education abroad. In this regard, program duration, accommodation type, language of instruction, social interaction patterns during education abroad, study major and host country are themes that are commonly assessed (Moore et al. this volume, Chapter 3; Roy et al., 2019). Existing research shows, for example, that the longer the program’s duration the stronger its positive influence on intercultural development (Behrnd & Porzelt, 2012), international perspectives, personal development (Zorn, 1996), and intellectual development (Varela & Gatlin-Watts, 2014, cited in Roy et al., 2019; Zorn, 1996). Chapters 3 and 4 in this section aim to provide a global overview of what is currently known about the relationship between different programs, program components and educational outcomes.

In Chapter 3, Kate Moore, Darin Menlove and Rebecca Pisano provide a matrix of program types and modalities in relation to their educational value. Their analysis clearly indicates the importance of program design, whereby different types and modalities are considered to enhance students’ learning, depending on the specific learning goals that need to be addressed. At the same time, the authors draw attention to the importance of taking the specific institutional context (e.g., resources, institutional capacity) into account when designing education abroad programs, as there is no one-size-fits-it-all approach.

In Chapter 4, Nick Gozik and Susan Oguro review the role of individual program components, namely modes of instruction, housing, extra- and co-curricular activities, experiential learning, and support services in achieving desired learning outcomes. Similarly to Chapter 3, the authors highlight that scholars and practitioners need to carefully consider how individual program components impactstudents, with particular attention to the need to identify first what students are expected to learn. They indicate, for example, how very often assumptions are taken for granted in the design of individual education abroad programs such as housing, without considering the available evidence. Nevertheless, if students have to attain the expected outcomes, it is essential to evaluate the success of individual program components through data collection and analysis.

Together, both chapters indicate the need to empirically analyze education abroad beyond the individual program level. Comparisons of programs and individual program components can provide useful insights into what works in terms of achieving desired outcomes and can assist practitioners in (improving) the design of education abroad programs and individual program components.


Behrnd, V., & Porzelt, S. (2012). “Intercultural competence and training outcomes of students with experiences abroad.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36 (2), 213-223.

Roy, A., Newman, A., Ellenberger, T., & Ryman, A. (2019). “Outcomes of international student mobility programs: A systematic review and agenda for future research.” Studies in Higher Education, 44(9), 1630-1644.

Van Mol, C. (2017). “Do employers value international study and internships? A comparative analysis of 31 countries.” Geoforum, 78(1), 52-60.

Varela, O. E., & Gatlin-Watts, R. (2014). “The development of the global manager: An empirical study on the role of academic international sojourns.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, 13(2), 187-207.

Zorn, C. R. (1996). “The long-term impact on nursing students of participating in international education.” Journal of Professional Nursing, 12(2), 106-110.

Program types: A matrix for cross-sectional analysis


  • • Transformative learning outside a student’s comfort zone is enhanced by intentional program design and deliver}'
  • • An understanding of student learning goals helps administrators determine which program type fits best with student motivations and institutional strategy
  • • Institutional context varies and there is no one size fits all model for program delivery'

Introduction and chapter overview

As the number and variety of outbound educational opportunities expands worldwide, higher education institutions face a growing range of opportunities and challenges. Researchers and administrators within education abroad particularly face an increased demand for the demonstration of proven outcomes as an integral part of the educational venture. Shared program models are helpful to describe, compare, select, and review program types and delivery' modalities.

With the acknowledgement that institutional context and regional or local environment can vary dramatically, this chapter synthesizes academic literature to classify program types and codify program modalities, creating a matrix to assist with a cross-sectional analysis of educational value for a range of programs.

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