Interest in China Continues to Grow, Fueled by Obama Administration's "100,000 Strong Initiative"


Chester, Pennsylvania (February 17, 2011) -, the Internet’s leading resource for study abroad and language programs with more than 210,000 monthly visitors, today released the top 10 most searched study abroad destinations. No. 1 England, No. 2 France, No. 3 Italy, No. 4 Spain and No. 5 Japan make up the top five, followed by No. 6 Australia, No. 7 Germany, No. 8 China, No. 9 Ireland and No. 10 South Korea. Most notable is the shift in position for China, to eighth most searched in January 2011, up from ninth between July and December 2010. In’s published list, China was the only destination to increase in ranking during the period.

While China has been a study abroad destination for U.S. students for many years, there has been a recent burst of interest in the country. According to data, curiosity about China spiked in January of this year, when First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech at Howard University mentioning the Administration’s "100,000 Strong Initiative" and President Obama included the initiative in the State of the Union Address. The increased interest in China has been noted by others in the study abroad community as well. According to the latest Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report, China was the only country to increase the number of U.S. students hosted between the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 academic years, among the top 5 leading destinations. And CET Academic Programs, an innovator in study abroad programs, has expanded its study abroad programs to China to meet demand, offering more than ever before, particularly programs that are business and career-oriented.

"CET Academic Programs started in 1982 by offering study abroad programs in Beijing. In those days students mainly chose to study in China because of an interest in Chinese culture, but motivations have since shifted, including interest in service learning, as well as professional development," said Mark Lenhart, Director at CET Academic Programs, which now offers study abroad programs in seven different countries. "The economic ties between the U.S. and China have seemed to influence students’ choices; they have made a link between having experience in China and getting a job. The benefit also transcends the individual - the exchanges people are able to have with different cultures through study abroad help battle misconceptions and breakdown stereotypes, which is important, especially given our global economy."

There are many factors driving this growing interest including:

  • Obama Administration’s "100,000 Strong Initiative" - The "100,000 Strong Initiative" is a national effort is designed to dramatically increase the number of and diversify the composition of American students studying in China. The initiative identifies the special need for more study abroad to China because of the important and complex relationship between the United States and China in terms of securing global peace and security. Through private-sector philanthropic support, the initiative aims to develop specific opportunities and funding sources for underrepresented students to study in China as well as promote diplomacy and foreign policy between the two countries.
  • Study Abroad as a Career Builder - Study abroad has moved away from being strictly a cultural experience. As more students focus on ways to jump-start their career in college, every experience is seen as a resume builder. Studying abroad in China, in particular, is an opportunity for participants to not only immerse in a culture very different from that of the U.S. but also gain better perspective on the global marketplace. The large expatriate communities in some Chinese cities, like Shanghai, have also made internship programs more viable as this population is familiar with the practice of engaging college students interested in gaining a short-term work experience.
  • China on the Rise at Earlier Ages - The importance of knowing about China is also being developed at younger ages, which then carries into interest at higher levels of education. Between 1997 and 2008, the proportion of Chinese foreign language classes rose from 1 percent to 4 percent in American middle and high schools that offered at least one foreign language, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics. Additionally, the College Board reports that its Advanced Placement test in Chinese, introduced in 2007, is getting so popular that it may pass German as the third most-tested A.P. language, after Spanish and French.

"A small percentage of U.S. students currently study abroad, but demand is growing. Publicly supported projects like the ‘100,000 Strong Initiative’ will propel this trend. Growing the number of students who study in China will help U.S.-China relations and, equally as important, help U.S. students be more successful personally and professionally," said Josh Irons, Director of Marketing for at EducationDynamics. "There is something you gain from immersing yourself in a completely different culture; you are forced to adapt, overcome a huge learning curve and communicate with people of all different backgrounds. These types of skills are incredibly transferable to the workplace - which is why so many students are using study abroad to better position themselves for their future careers." is a web resource of EducationDynamics which offers information on more than 12,000 study abroad programs.

About is a web resource of EducationDynamics and the Internet’s leading source of information on educational opportunities for students to study in other countries. It is a comprehensive directory of study abroad and intensive language programs organized by subject and destination. Currently information on more than 12,000 study abroad programs is available and more than two million students visit annually. also offers Destination Portal Pages, a handbook serving as a guide to traveling abroad; Blog Abroad, a blog that chronicles the experiences of students as they study abroad; and financial aid information. To learn more, visit

About EducationDynamics
EducationDynamics is higher education’s leading marketing information and technology services company dedicated to helping institutions find, enroll and retain students. Its content-rich and highly visible education websites, including,,,,,, and its more than 50 special interest microsites, make EducationDynamics the premier provider of qualified prospective students for colleges and universities. In addition, the company offers a full suite of Web-delivered services proven to drive enrollment growth and reduce student attrition, as well as other innovative solutions including LeadWatchLive, its web-based inquiry management system. Through its Market Research and Advisory Services, the company brings a decade of proprietary research, unparalleled market and student intelligence and best practice insights to its clients. For more information, visit  

About CET Academic Programs
CET Academic Programs is a private study abroad organization based in Washington that has been designing and administering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. CET offers semester and summer study abroad programs in China, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, Spain, Syria and Vietnam, as well as short-term, customized programs worldwide. CET is known for its high academic standards, innovative approaches to teaching and careful student management. CET’s programs integrate students into their overseas communities and lead them to create lasting relationships with their local hosts. Staffed by over 40 full-time employees in the US and abroad, CET currently sends around 1000 US students abroad annually. For more information, visit