Record Number of HMC Students Study Abroad in Spring 2020

Forty-three Harvey Mudd College students are studying abroad during spring semester this year, the largest group to participate in study abroad in the College’s history.

Countries where students are studying include Britain, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Spain.

This group of 43 students is also the most ethnically diverse in the history of the College and represents a wide range of majors, including biology, computer science, engineering, math and physics.

Nationally, students majoring in STEM are less likely to participate in study abroad programs during their college years than students in other majors. STEM students often have a harder time fitting a semester abroad into academic requirements that are tightly sequenced. STEM students also have fewer science and engineering-related programs to choose from and can have more difficulty obtaining credit at their home institution for STEM courses taken abroad due to differences in course material covered.

Harvey Mudd’s Office of Study Abroad has been working to increase the opportunities and overcome the challenges for STEM students to participate in study abroad programs. In the early 2000s, only 5% percent of the College’s junior class participated in study abroad programs; now the College regularly sends between 15 to 18% of the junior class abroad. This year’s record number represents 22% of the class.

“We’re really excited about how our numbers have increased, that so many students have chosen to and are able to study abroad this semester,” said Rhonda Chiles, director of study abroad at Harvey Mudd. “We’ve been working hard to make this possible—partnering with our program providers to increase the portfolio of STEM programs, working with our academic departments to ensure that courses abroad meet the necessary requirements and encouraging students who have returned from study abroad to share their amazing experiences.”

“One of the mottos in my office is ‘STEM majors are global majors,’” Chiles said. “I want students to look at their major from a wider global perspective, not from just a U.S. perspective. Everything they do is going to impact the world, and they need to be a part of that world, be part of others’ cultures and see how classes are taught from a different perspective. They have more opportunities than ever to gain that experience.”

The opportunity to study abroad is part of the College’s ongoing mission to educate leaders who understand the impact of their work on society. Through the Study Abroad program, students gain a global perspective of their fields, while continuing their education and exploring other cultures and countries.