IES Abroad GPA Requirement Change

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Kiah Zellner-Smith
July 7, 2016

Recently, the IES Abroad Academic Council voted to change the minimum GPA for admission from 3.0 to 2.75, effective with the Spring 2017 semester.

The change applies to all programs, except for some IES Abroad programs with an outside enrollment component, where IES Abroad must follow the guidelines established by those schools. Advisors and students should visit our website for program-specific GPA requirements.

This change was enacted in an effort to remove structural barriers to study abroad participation. Our multi-year studies have concluded that GPA is not the only predictor for success on a study abroad program. Student motivation, flexibility, resilience, and willingness to engage with the community are very powerful influencers of success abroad. 

In order to consider this policy change, we conducted research that we shared with the Academic Council for their thorough review before voting on the policy change. Our multi-year studies have concluded that GPA is not the only predictor for success on a study abroad program.

First, we have been tracking the performance of students with a GPA below 3.0, since we have always allowed students with less than a 3.0 GPA to be admitted based upon extra review by a committee. Our data analyses showed no statistically significant difference between the academic performances on our programs of those who have a 3.0 GPA versus a 2.75 GPA.    

Second, our most recent research has shown that most of our member schools encourage students to study abroad with a 2.75 GPA and many allow students to study abroad with a 2.5 GPA. This was even the case for most of the colleges/universities represented on our Academic Council.

Third, the majority of other study abroad providers used consistently by our Academic Consortium members admit students at the 2.75 GPA level and almost half of them admit at the 2.5 GPA level. With this range and amount of research to inform their decision making, our Academic Council unanimously approved the change in policy. We are confident that our students will continue to perform extremely well at the 2.75 GPA level of admittance.

Because there are multiple criteria for success on a study abroad program and our members have always better assessed the other criteria in their students due to their access to more information and their direct contact with their students, we continue to count on our members to screen students for participation in our programs carefully. We are assured that our members will continue to reinforce with their applicants the expectation that IES Abroad programs are academically demanding, in addition to providing premiere student academic support and health, safety, and crisis management support.

Our 65-year commitment to academic excellence through offering programming in which students are encouraged and supported to meet high expectations for their performance is unwavering. Recognizing that many of these students are motivated to work hard when participating in our transformative study abroad programs, we know that they can and will continue to achieve high levels of success.

The admission requirements are currently being updated on our website.

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Kiah Zellner-Smith

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