Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

William Hoffa


In response to increasing demand for education abroad among undergraduate students, many higher education institutions have been developing diversified study abroad programs that incorporate academic study and internships abroad in their program design. In order to create high-impact study abroad programs, it is important for international educators to understand the value students place on each subset of their experience abroad, as well as what program components have the greatest impact on students’ personal and professional development.

This qualitative study aims to explore how former UNC Honors Study Abroad students perceive the effects of their internships and courses abroad on their personal and professional development, and to identify any synergistic learning opportunities between the two program components. This study consisted of an online survey and five in-depth interviews with former Honors Study Abroad participants who studied abroad in Cape Town or London in the period between fall 2011 and fall 2013. The findings suggest that participants’ international internship experiences had significant impact on their independence, self-awareness, knowledge of their professional field, and cross-cultural communication skills, while the study abroad academics had the highest impact on students’ cognitive development; critical thinking and understanding of global issues.

The results obtained in this capstone paper support findings from previous studies that the experiential learning component is a positive addition to the traditional study abroad models, and that there are synergistic learning opportunities between academic courses and internships abroad.


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Higher Education | International and Comparative Education