Aug 11, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
Created in 2005 as part of GT's Quality Enhancement Plan, the International Plan (IP) continues to attract approximately 250 students from each incoming freshman class. The IP is an optional degree designator, meaning that a series of experiential and course requirements are built into a student's major. Students typically join the program as first-year students, and work on the IP components over the course of their GT undergraduate degree. Completion of the IP results in a special designation on the diploma, an indication that a student has made international education a central part of their GT experience.
The IP asks students to spent at least six months abroad engaged in study, internship and/or research abroad; demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language; take three globally-focused courses; and complete a culminating capstone project. While 54% of GT's undergraduate students have at least one international experience by the time they graduate, the IP takes international study a step further. By creating a coherent plan that immerses the student in a language and culture and by incorporating the complementary global coursework into the program, IP students develop deep insights into their own culture, their host culture, and the global context in which they will eventually practice their discipline.
These insights benefit students in any field, regardless of where they end up after Georgia Tech. Employers increasingly report a need to recruit graduates who have global perspectives, can work with diverse teams, and are flexible, open-minded, and able to approach problems from more than one angle. IP graduating students continuously cite these attributes as key takeaways from the program.
Although it is becoming more common for universities to offer global minors and certificates, the IP remains a unique program. Many similar programs require a much shorter amount of time abroad (5-6 weeks vs. 6 months), and the IP is actually a part of the student's major, not a side pursuit.
The IP is an important recruitment tool for GT, with many first-year applicants stating that the IP was one of the deciding factors for them to choose GT over other schools. It is particularly attractive to female STEM students, which contributes to GT's effort to increase its enrollment of women.
Since the inception of the IP in 2005, Tech's internationalization has increased significantly. The number of international programs available to students has increased by 75%, and the undergraduate participation rate in international experiences has increased from 33% to 54%. The IP also led to the founding of the Global Internship Program (formerly Work Abroad), which now sends nearly 200 students abroad for internships each year. The IP directly contributes to GT's strategic goal of, "graduating good global citizens."
The Office of International Education supports IP students by offering special sections of GT 1000 for newly accepted IP students, opportunities to network with IP upperclassmen and alumni, and specialized advising on pathways to completing the program. OIE also works with the participating academic units to ensure there are adequate international opportunities for students in each major, to keep the IP curriculum up-to-date, and to administer the IP Capstones.
To date, 253 students have graduated with the IP designation. To hear highlights from the Spring 2017 class of IP Graduates, watch our video at https://youtu.be/I0-E5Zj1TEE.
“Not only did I personally enjoy my time studying and living abroad, but in terms of academic and career opportunities, I was able to relate so many of my experiences to a skill my employers were seeking whether it was problem solving or thriving in a team environment. My time abroad also has allowed me to relate to a diverse group of people, which was very helpful as diversity is so engrained in the country and society I live in.”
--Michelle Lee ’15, B.S. Industrial Engineering – International Plan, Advanced Language Proficiency
“My desire to impact humanity through innovation, particularly within global health biotechnology applications, led me to Georgia Tech for my undergraduate studies and, specifically, to Georgia Tech’s biomedical engineering and International Plan program. Studying, working, and researching abroad through the International Plan truly developed me into the “humanitarian engineer” that I am today. I became a biomedical engineer fluent in discussing and solving technical problems in Spanish and a contributing member of several multi-national teams. I would not be the engineer that I am today without Georgia Tech’s International Plan and I firmly believe that the world needs more humanitarian engineers. Through programs like the International Plan, we have the tools to train this next generation.”
--Becky Byler '13, Biomedical Engineering - International Plan and current PhD candidate at Yale