For much of its history, Arcadia University has been actively involved in international education. In June of 1948, a professor at Beaver College – the institution now known as Arcadia University – took seventeen students via boat to Europe for ten weeks to see the first-hand economic effects of World War II and the post-war efforts to rebuild. This was a pioneering effort in a time when other colleges had yet to resurrect the study abroad programs that the recent world war had interrupted.

The success of that summer study initiative spawned several more programs in other disciplines, so for the next several summers both Beaver College students and those invited from neighboring institutions took part in Beaver's European study tours. Then in 1965, the Center for Education Abroad was established to enable American undergraduates to study for credit in fully-integrated programs in Great Britain, Austria and elsewhere. Soon thereafter, the Beaver College London Center was founded. Over the years, Arcadia has expanded both its curricular offerings and the locations of its programming. Arcadia University is now recognized as one of the oldest and most prestigious education abroad programs in the U.S. and continues to be a national leader in international education.

In 2009, the Arcadia University Center for Education Abroad transformed into The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University through a total restructuring of the University Academic Affairs. The College of Global Studies became one of the academic units of the university, alongside : The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Business; and the College of Health Sciences. It is the first College of its kind dedicated to the delivery and development of education abroad.

Today, The College of Global Studies provides undergraduates access to over 130 programs abroad in Australia, Cuba, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain and Wales. Nearly 3,000 students from over 300 colleges and universities participate in Arcadia University's programs abroad each year. Arcadia continuously strives to provide the highest level of support and service to its program participants wherever they are in the world.

Arcadia University's trustees, administration and faculty engage with The College of Global Studies to develop creative and effective ways to implement that component of the University's mission, which involves "preparing students for life in a changing global society." Arcadia's curriculum reflects an international perspective with global connections providing a core thread throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Additionally, many of Arcadia’s graduate programs require an international experience. Arcadia's unique "First Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE)" uses The College's overseas resources and structures to support a full semester of education abroad for first semester undergraduates, and the "Spring Preview", a full semester 2-credit course, allows every first-year student at Arcadia University the opportunity to spend spring break abroad for a nominal fee. These institutional efforts have resulted in being recognized as number one in study abroad in IIE’s Open Doors reports for the past five years.