The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in science and technology occupations will grow by 18.7%, which is significantly higher than all other professions. Many of the STEM positions will have a global component, necessitating research and collaboration across borders and cultures.

So why do fewer STEM majors study abroad than social science and humanities students? Below are the top three (disproven) reasons STEM students (and professors) site as to why study abroad is not possible.

#1) I will not be able to stay on track for graduation.

Not true if you plan early. With proper planning it is absolutely possible for science and math students to complete degree and graduation requirements while studying abroad. KEI offers a wide selection of science and math courses in 9 locations around the world. Some KEI program locations also offer research and professional internships. And, all programs offer general education and language courses.

#2) I do not speak a second language.

Nor do you have to. All KEI programs are conducted in English. That includes courses and internships.

#3) I can’t afford it. 

Most students can afford study abroad. The good news is that there are various sources of financial aid available for study abroad, including KEI grants and interest-free payment plans, federal aid, state aid, institutional scholarships and foundation aid. The government recognizes the important of supporting STEM students. As such, STEM majors are at an advantage when it comes to government grants. Below are a just a couple of grants to consider.


KEI offers a wide range of subjects in the life science, physical science and Earth science. below is a list of the most popular subject areas with education abroad students. Click on a subject area to view program locations that offer courses in that subject.

Program Spotlight

The Bioethics Cross-cultural Education Program (BioCEP) is a cooperative effort by the Knowledge Exchange Institute, Mahidol University International College and Dr. John Loike, researcher and faculty at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Touro College. The program’s primary objective is to help students understand how culture and religion influence controversial issues related to science research and the application of science in medicine and biomedical technologies. Topics include emerging infections, the integration of Western and Eastern medicine, medical tourism, stem cell research, organ transplantation, informed consent, malnutrition, abortion, public health, genetic testing, and reproductive medicine.

BioCEP is open to both students and faculty. Students enroll in a Cross-Cultural Bioethics course (6 credits) offered in Bangkok, Thailand during the summer. The curriculum combines lectures, seminars and professional visits. Discussions are led by professors and guest speakers from Columbia University, visiting faculty from the USA, Mahidol University, Thai Ministry of Health and/or various organizations in Thailand.

Issues in medicine and bioethics are becoming cross-cultural as more countries debate genetic engineering, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, sex selection, abortion, designer babies, euthanasia, end of life and scientific research funding. Ethics education develops the knowledge and strategic thinking skills needed to address common dilemmas that exist today and in the future as new bio-technologies emerge.

Alumnus Spotlight

Jordan Sloan
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics
Program: Russian Language & Culture (Fall)
Program: Chinese Language & Science Research (Spring)

Mr. Sloan participated in two KEI programs: Fall semester at Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia and Spring semester at the University of International Business & Economics in Beijing, China. During his Spring semester, Mr. Sloan combined intensive Mandarin language studies with a research internship at the State Key Laboratory of Microbial Resources.

Project: Archaeal Viruses from Extreme Geothermal Environments

The project concerned viruses infecting the hyperthermophilic archaea of the genus Sulfolobus, a group of organisms thriving in acidic hot springs around the globe (Wang et al., 2015). Archaea are the third form of life, next to Bacteria and Eukarya. Sulfolobus viruses exhibit an exceptional diversity in morphology and encode proteins, which share little homology to known proteins in other viruses or cellular life forms. The objective of the project was to characterize the morphology of Sulfolobus viruses and to understand the molecular details of their interactions with the host cell.

Employability & Education Abroad

Education abroad has been shown to have significant impact on learning, academic performance, graduation, careers, and personality development. Below is a summary of results from notable studies on the impact of education abroad.

Careers, Salaries & Job Skills


of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period. (1) Among study abroad alumni, 90% landed a job within 6 months. (2, 11)


higher starting salaries: that’s how much more study abroad students earn than those college graduates who do not study abroad.(1) This equates to approx. $7,000 annually for US students. (3)


of study abroad alumni who applied got into their 1st or 2nd choice grad school. (1)


of study abroad alumni felt their studies abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market. (4) A second study confirms this at 85%. (9)


of US businesses failed to expand due to a dearth of staff international experience. (13)


of study abroad students reported that study abroad allowed them to better adapt to diverse work environments. (4)


of study abroad alumni claimed that because of study abroad they were more satisfied with their jobs. (4)


of employers said study abroad would be valuable in an individual’s career later on with their organization. (10)


of study abroad alumni claimed that study abroad helped them choose their career field. (4)


lower unemployment rates were found among study abroad alumni according to a British study. (4)
Graduation & Academic Performance


greater improvement in GPA post-study abroad. Students who studied abroad saw their GPAs rise twice as quickly as their peers. (8)


more likely to graduate: that describes how study abroad participants are more likely to graduate than non-participants. (5, 6, 7)
Personal Growth


of study abroad alumni attributed study abroad to increased maturity. (12)


of study abroad alumni claimed an increase in self-confidence attributed to study abroad. (12)


of study abroad alumni reported that study abroad facilitated a greater tolerance for ambiguity. (12)
1 Benefits of Study Abroad
2 New Survey Shows College Graduates Who Study Abroad Land Career-Related Jobs Sooner, with Higher Starting Salaries
3 How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary
4 AIFS Study Abroad Outcomes
5 UC San Diego Study: 2011 EAP and OAP Retention, Graduation, and Time-to-Degree Combined
6 Go Abroad and Graduate On-Time: Study Abroad Participation, Degree Completion, and Time-to-Degree
7 The Effect of Study Abroad on College Completion in a State University System
8 Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad
9 The Impact of Studying Abroad on Recent College Graduates’ Careers
 10 Employers Value Candidates Who Study Abroad
11 Mobile Students More Likely to Have a Job
12 How More Study Abroad Programmes Could Benefit Society
13 Paul Simon Study Abroad Act Back on Legislative Cards


How Studying Abroad Makes You A Better Leader by Shellie Karabell

Once upon a time, doing business abroad was unique: Berlitz and others published books on business etiquette for those venturing across the ocean, language books enabling you to order in a restaurant or to get you through a social encounter. And once upon a time, that was enough. Today, thanks to technology and the internet, the world is global. Business is global. Nearly three-fourths of all S&P 500 companies today report some kind of international revenue. Read more.

Study abroad: the career benefits by James Connington

There are skills to be gained from moving country and adjusting to a new teaching system. It’s also far easier to identify the skills you are lacking when you step outside your comfort zone – and going abroad to study is a fairly serious step. Read more.