Revised Study Abroad Program Leads to 15% Increase in CQ Scores


This organization works with individuals and universities to send thousands of students on study abroad programs each year. The programs vary in length from two weeks to a semester long. The organization prided itself on running programs that truly immersed students in the local culture. They began using the CQ Assessment before and after students traveled and discovered that only one of the four CQ capabilities was consistently increased through their programs—CQ Knowledge.


The organization worked with the Cultural Intelligence Center to do a complete audit of their programs. The review included an audit of marketing materials, the application process, overseas partners, orientation, on-site experiences, and de-briefing.

The audit revealed several strengths and a number of gaps. As a result, the organization implemented a more deliberate strategy for using the study abroad experience to improve all four CQ capabilities.

Trip leaders and local partners all participated in cultural intelligence assessment and training. In addition, the following program was established for the trips:


  • Students took the CQ Assessment
  • Students were introduced to CQ and the Cultural Value Orientations
  • Students were assigned to read about their destinations
  • Students interviewed someone on campus from or near the destination of their trips
  • Students worked on their CQ Development Plans (specifically identifying steps they could take on the trip to address their CQ strengths and areas for improvement).

During the Trip

  • Students drew from a series of CQ strategies throughout the trip
  • Students recorded insights and observations in journals throughout the trip and were provided prompts for themes to write about


  • Students completed a reflection paper
  • Students completed the CQ Assessment again
  • Students developed an action plan for applying the study abroad experience to their anticipated career path


As a result of implementing CQ before and after the students’ study abroad experiences, the following outcomes were identified:

  • Instead of only improving their CQ Knowledge scores, the majority of students improved in at least three of the four CQ capabilities.
  • On average, students’ CQ Strategy and CQ Action scores increased by more than 15%. The process used to integrate CQ with the study abroad experience and learning prepared them to work and relate strategically in culturally diverse situations. This means the students were better equipped to be strategic leaders in culturally diverse situations.
  • On average, students T2 (Post-Trip) CQ scores were significantly higher than the worldwide norms for CQ. This improvement in their cultural intelligence will improve their interactions with culturally diverse faculty, staff and students, and better equip them for work in the 21st century marketplace.
  • The organization saw a 10% increase in the post-trip ratings received by students, parents, and university partners after implementing this program.

CQ is an ongoing education

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