Elon University has again earned recognition for sending more students abroad than any other master’s-level university in the country, an accolade that affirms the university’s commitment to ensuring its students have access to international experiences during their time at Elon.

The No. 1 ranking for Elon comes from the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange Institute of International Education, which reported that 1,434 Elon students studied abroad during the 2014-15 academic year. Elon placed ahead of James Madison University, Appalachian State University, the College of Charleston and Arcadia University at the top of this year’s list.

The ranking comes as Elon makes further progress toward its strategic goal of achieving 100 percent access to a global engagement experience by the year 2020, with the university expanding financial aid to assist students who cannot afford the cost of study abroad.

In the 2016 Open Doors Report, Elon was also ranked No. 1 among master’s-level institutions in the number of students on mid-length programs, with 506 students participating, and was ranked No. 2 for short-term duration study abroad experiences.

“Our 13-year run in the number one position is a real testament to the commitment of our senior administration, the tireless support of strong faculty allies, too numerous to list, and the spirited and engaged student body of Elon,” said Rhonda Waller, director of study abroad at Elon. “But I am most proud because this is indisputable evidence of the extraordinary hard work and dedication of the International Education professionals that I have the honor of working with every day.”

Students collected data, recorded observations and conducted experiments during a field biology Winter Term course in Belize.

Elon’s students were among 313,000 U.S. students who received credit last year for studying abroad, an increase of about 3 percent from the year before. Elon saw a 6.5 percent increase in participation in study abroad during 2014-15 than the year before.

In fall 2016, 465 Elon students learned and interned away from campus, with London, Florence, Barcelona, Dublin and Berlin among the most popular destinations. Elon has study centers abroad in Shanghai, London and Florence. Additionally, Elon is seeing an increase in participation rates in semester-long programs, indicating the more students are choosing to invest in longer-term global experiences.

“We need to empower more of America’s future leaders to experience the world beyond our borders,” said Evan Ryan, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs at the U.S. Department of State. “International education helps people develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s global economy, and creates networks across borders that improve international understanding and strengthen the national security of the United States.”

Among members of the Class of 2016, 74 percent of Elon graduates had studied abroad at least once during their collegiate studies. Taking into account Elon’s Study USA programs in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, that figure rises to 80 percent. Elon’s high participation rate compares with a national average of less than 10 percent of college students having an international study experience – a percentage that has been steady for a number of years.

Dozens of students from other countries that come to Elon to study also take advantage of Elon’s global experience offerings. During the 2014-15 academic year, 28 international students participated in study abroad programs and another 31 had noncredit experiences abroad as Elon students.

For the U.S. students studying abroad, women continue to make up 67 percent of the study abroad population. The racial and ethnic diversity has improved modestly each year since 2004-05, with 27 percent of U.S. students who studied abroad in 2014-15 identified as racial or ethnic minorities, up from 17 percent a decade ago. Open Doors reports that about 5 percent of those who studied abroad were people with disabilities.

Open Doors is published by the Institute of International Education, an independent nonprofit organization with a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations and corporations. IIE has conducted an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since its founding in 1919 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since 1972.