St. Olaf ranks No. 1 in study abroad for ninth straight year

St. Olaf students Samantha Roback ’19 and Kelsey Halverson ’20 take in the scenery at Kirkjufell Waterfall while studying ‘Media and the Environment’ in Iceland as part of a program this year led by faculty members Linda Mokdad and Bjorn Nordfjord.

St. Olaf College sent more students to study abroad during the 2015–16 academic year than any other baccalaureate institution in the nation, according to the Open Doors 2017 Report on International Educational Exchange.

This marks the ninth straight year the college has ranked first among its peers in the total number of students studying abroad.

“St. Olaf values off-campus studies together with other high-impact practices,” says Director of Off-Campus Studies Jodi Malmgren ’92. “Our faculty and partner institutions offer programs in all regions of the world that amplify the liberal arts learning that occurs on campus and enhance students’ global engagement. Our No. 1 ranking demonstrates our commitment.”

St. Olaf students (from left) Henry Miller ’20, Jack Schoephoerster ’19, Kathryn York ’19, Cookie Imperial ’19, Kelsey Halverson ’20, Chaz Mayo ’18, Samantha Roback ’19, and Sam Carlson ’19 at the Solfar (Sun Voyager) Sculpture in Reykjavik.

St. Olaf currently offers study abroad programs in nearly 50 countries, including more than 70 semester or year-long programs and 30 courses each Interim. Faculty-led semester programs include Global Semester and Environmental Science in Australia and New Zealand.

According to the Open Doors report, St. Olaf also ranked first in short-term study abroad numbers for baccalaureate institutions.

St. Olaf students routinely cite studying abroad as among their most formative college experiences. Johnny Goodson ’20, who recently traveled to Iceland as part of a Media and the Environment course led by faculty members Linda Mokdad and Bjorn Nordfjord, says it was “truly eye-opening and the best experience of my life.”

St. Olaf students (from left) Johnny Goodson ’20, Henry Miller ’20, and Sam Carlson ’19 in an ice cave on Vatnajökull Glacier.

The 16 St. Olaf students on the program studied the media and its role in portraying environmental issues, specifically global warming. As the students visited sites ranging from the Kirkjufell Waterfall to the Vatnajökull Glacier, they worked together to write, direct, and edit four different documentaries. The students held a screening of all four documentaries for the entire campus community this October.

Open Doors is the comprehensive information resource on international students in the United States and on the more than 200,000 U.S. students who study abroad as part of their academic experience. The Institute of International Education publishes the Open Doors report annually with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.