Pacific Study Abroad Program’s Impact on Students’ Major and Career Choice


  • Rachel Bomser University of Florida
  • Heather J. Gibson
  • Hongping Zhang



study abroad, tourism


Since 2007, the University of Florida has hosted summer field-based, sustainability-focused study abroad programs in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of these study abroad programs on change of major and subsequent career choice. Program alumni (2007-2019) completed an online questionnaire. N=94 responded to questions about impact on major (yes=1, no=2), career choice (yes=1, no=2), and open-ended responses. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi square, and content analysis. Five of 94 respondents changed majors and 39/93 reported study abroad influenced their career choice. Content analysis revealed participation influenced: n=14 to pursue a sustainability-focused career, n=8 to work in “a helping-profession”, n=6 to pursue ecotourism, and n=4 to study environmental law. Program participation seems to be influential for some in future career choice, but not major change. 

Author Biographies

Heather J. Gibson

Professor, Associate Director
University of Florida Department of Tourism, Hospitality & Event Management,
Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute

Hongping Zhang

3rd year PhD Student

University of Florida Tourism Management program






Social & Behavioral Sciences, Business, Education