Gilman Scholarship Program Shown to Expand and Diversify U.S. Study Abroad

June 1, 2016

While more than 300,000 American college students study abroad, this number represents less than two percent of the 20 million students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities each year.  Also, American students who study abroad do not fully reflect U.S. higher education and American society at large.

A recently released, external evaluation of the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program found that the Gilman Scholarship is changing this, by diversifying the pool of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go.  From changed perspectives on the world to focusing academic pursuits on international topics and deepening foreign language skills, the Gilman Scholarship has enabled students of limited financial means to develop the knowledge and competencies to compete in a global economy. The evaluation also uncovered many ways in which the Gilman Scholarship experience influences participants’ professional paths.

Forty-four percent of Gilman scholars were first-generation college students and over 70 percent of Gilman Scholars studied outside of Western Europe, compared to the national average of 47 percent. Gilman Scholars are significantly more representative of the diversity of the American population than U.S. study abroad overall.  The Department of State annually awards Gilman scholarships to almost 3,000 American undergraduate students with financial need, expanding and diversifying the pool of students who study abroad. 

Gilman Scholars have also developed a “global perspective” and interest in continued international engagement.  Over 80 percent of the Gilman scholars found jobs where they could interact with people from different backgrounds and nationalities and more than half reported working in a field that includes an international and cross-cultural component.  The Gilman Program has helped internationalize college and university campuses by attracting new sources of study abroad funding, expanding study abroad to more diverse locations and supporting the professional development of study abroad staff.

The Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Gilman Program. To see the evaluation and learn more about the Gilman Program and other study abroad initiatives, visit:  Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause.  For press inquiries, please contact