Latin America Study Abroad Growing

The objective of this survey was to learn more about study abroad participation in Latin America, particularly where growth is occurring, what is contributing to this growth, and what developments (study abroad options & programs) international education professionals would like to see emerge. Following is a summary of the questions and responses, along with my notes and findings.

Population: SECUSS-L & AIEA, professional listservs for the field of Study Abroad
Responses: 60 (52 Colleges/Universities, 5 Third Party Providers, 3 Consortia and Organizations)

How many of your students studied abroad in Latin America for any period of time between Fall 2008 to Summer 2009?

Fall 2008 Spring 2009 Summer 2009
Response Average 31.45 28.22 30.53

Does this number represent an increase or decrease in participation to Latin America?

 Increase = 63.6%     Decrease = 36.4%

If you experienced an increase, why do you think more students are choosing Latin America?

The responses to this question were grouped by category, and the number of responses for each category is listed. Note, categories that had only one response were either merged or eliminated.


Several of the respondents, whose institutions did not experience an increase, commented that they thought it was a result of the H1N1 scare and/or their own program cancellations to Mexico.

Please provide the number of students that went to each country. Below is the response average for each country.

Study Abroad Countries

Please provide the approximate number of students that focused on each of the following subjects during their study abroad experience in Latin America.

Study Abroad Subjects

If you had a number under OTHER, please tell us what other subjects your students studied.  Below are the number of responses for each subject (not the number of students)

Agriculture – 2
Architecture – 3
Art, Textiles, Digital Media – 2
Computer Science – 2
Education, Teaching – 5
Engineering, Urban/Regional Planning – 4
Health Care, Public Health, Nursing – 5
Humanities – 5
International Law, Politics, Gov – 5
Internships – 1
Service Learning – 2
Social Justice, Human Rights – 3
Social Sciences – 5
Tourism – 1

Excluding Spanish language and culture courses taken in Latin America, please tell us the number of your students who fell into the following categories.

Response Average

Please tell us the number students that chose each of the following program lengths in Latin America.

Please tell us the number of students that chose each of the following paths to study abroad in Latin America.

Study Abroad Program Path - Response Average

Open Question: What kind of study abroad options/programs would you like to see in the future, for your students that choose Latin America? Which countries?

I analyzed this question by dividing responses into two groups: program types & locations. There were no common trends or reoccurring patterns seen from the responses. As for program types, four respondents commented that they’d like to see more Internships/Service Learning opportunities, and two mentioned that they would like to see these opportunities integrated into their regular semester programs, instead of being offered as separate ventures. Three respondents commented that they’d like to see more teaching on the native cultures of the region. The desire for more Social Justice and Peace Studies were also mentioned more than once.

As for the countries, there were no eye-catching patterns seen from the responses to this survey.



Most institutions and companies (63.6%) are experiencing an increase in their study abroad participation to Latin America.

Sixty six percent of the responses to Question #5 indicated that cost effectiveness (39%) and greater access (27%) —by way of institutional partnerships, faculty-led programs, and third party providers—are why more students are choosing to study abroad in Latin America.

Study abroad in Latin America is occurring throughout the year, with no great distinction or separation between Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Semester-long programs are the most popular length, followed by short-term programs which are four weeks or less.

Argentina is the most popular study abroad destination, followed by Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Chile.

Brazil is the sixth most popular study abroad destination; however, there was no mention of students studying Portuguese language and culture.

All subjects are studied in Latin America, with Spanish language and culture being the most popular.

There is not a great distinction in the number of students who take courses taught in English vs. those who take courses in Spanish, and many students take both.

While the majority of students go through third-party providers, another large vehicle to access Latin America is faculty-led study abroad programs.

Submitted by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University

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2 thoughts on “Latin America Study Abroad Growing

  1. Very interested to see that more students went to Argentina than any other South American country – I personally would have thought Brazil would have been the number one choice. Great stats – thank you.

  2. Nice study, thanks!

    @ Brent M: Might it have something to do with the fact that Brazil isn’t a Spanish speaking country? i.e. the main draw of Latin America is that it is Spanish speaking, whereas not many schools offer Portuguese programs?

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