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What is International Education?

International Education (IE) prepares leaders to be active and engaged participants in creating positive intercultural understanding, peace, and responsible world citizens. IE has many definitions, but the general criteria include: promoting cultural competency (intercultural communication, global awareness, language), increasing intercultural understanding and respect of differences, and encouraging tolerance through self-identity and social cohesion. It is important to note that definitions in IE reflect US usages and are not always clearly defined in international spaces


There are many career routes within IE with most organizations categorizing areas of focus into five communities based on NAFSA’s International Competencies. 

Education Abroad (EA)

Education and work in study abroad, including work, internships, volunteering, service-learning, and educational travel.

International Education Leadership (IEL)

The weaving of international, intercultural, and global dimensions into the philosophy of higher education.

International Enrollment Management (IEM)

Admissions, recruitment, enrollment management, credential evaluation, sponsored program administration, and overseas counseling.

Urep Abroad

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

Supports international students, visiting scholars, and international faculty with immigration advising and support services.

Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (TLS)

Research that informs practice, and intercultural communication for IE professionals.