study abroad, international experience, benefit, cultural understanding, benchmark


Implementation of international experiences for students has increased. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these experiences enhance the quality of students upon graduation. However, a synthesis of literature related to the benefits of international experiences was lacking. We rooted the study’s conceptual framework in the concept of high-impact activities/experiences and related inputs, processes, and outcomeswith a focuson the benefits of student participation in an international experience.Ourpurpose was to establish a benchmark documentingresearch conducted related to the benefits of an international experience and to identify research gaps. The rigorous literature review process identified 108articles published across 55unique publications for inclusion. Documentation of benefits was grouped into four categories: personal growth, international knowledge, cultural awareness, and additional skills. Further, the literature revealed a litany of reasons that students chose not to participate and a wide range of guidance for program planning.We concludethat research has documented specific benefits of students’ participation in international experiences; however, many of these studies are based on data collected immediately following the experience rather than longitudinal data. Our research synthesis provides a summary of benefits and program strategies for utilization by researchers in planning future research and by practitionersin planning future international experiences