Types of Studying Abroad Programs

25.09.2017 |

Episode #2 of the course How to prepare to study abroad by Susanna M. Olson


There are many different ways for students to get abroad. This lesson will discuss three basic categories of study abroad programs, offering advice for students choosing among the plethora of options.


Short-Stay Programs

The first type of study program we will discuss is when a professor from your university takes students abroad. These programs come in many shapes and forms. In general, you will travel with a small group of students and faculty from your host university. Although you may visit a university abroad, your classes are often taught by professors who are already familiar to you.

The main benefit of these types of programs is familiarity. You will be traveling with other students from your academic program. Living arrangements and weekend activities are often planned for you.

The drawback is that within the rigid schedule, it can be difficult to feel fully immersed in a new culture.

Financial commitment: Expensive summer courses (with possible opportunity for scholarships or aid depending on your university).

Course Credit: This will vary by school and program; expect to earn the credit of one summer course.

Length: Generally three to eight weeks.

Action steps: Visit your university’s study abroad office to see what programs they offer.


Exchange Program

With this program, you will be fully enrolled at a host university. Many universities have partner universities abroad that they exchange faculty and students with. If you cannot find a program that works for you with the partner universities, many schools will help you work out a direct enroll program with the foreign university of your choice.

The benefit to this type of program is that you are fully immersed in a new situation, without familiar faculty or friends to fall back on. It is probably the most immersive experience. However, it does require high levels of independence, as you will have to navigate a new culture, school system, and living situation on your own.

Financial commitment: Varies; if you choose to attend a partner university of your school, your tuition may remain the same. If you choose to work out your own program with a host university, you will have to pay the tuition of the host university.

Course Credit: You will be earning full academic credit for the time you are there.

Length: Semester or year.

Action steps: Find out if your university has partner universities, and talk to your academic counselor to determine if your academic program allows for time abroad.


Independent Provider

There are companies who arrange and provide independently run study abroad programs. The drawback to these types of programs is that you may not be able to use financial aid or scholarships from your university. However, if you can afford to purchase an independent program, private companies offer an incredibly diverse range of opportunities, from French language immersion in Paris to researching sustainability in Antarctica to teaching children English in Thailand.

Some of the top independent program providers include: IFSA-Butler, CIEE Study Abroad, International Studies Abroad (ISA), CEA Study Abroad Center, Semester at Sea, and AIFS Study Abroad Programs.

Financial commitment: These tend to be the most expensive options; however, a few providers pride themselves in being affordable, and some offer scholarships.

Course Credit: Varies; you will need to contact your university once you have chosen a program.

Length: Varies.

Action steps: Do some research, and choose a program that feels right for you. Then contact your study abroad office and school counselor to see if the university will work with you to move on to the next step.

Now that you know how to choose a program, in the next lesson, we will look at the three major living situations for study abroad students: homestay, student accommodation, and renting an apartment.


Recommended reading

12 Most Unique Study Abroad Programs


Recommended book

The Exchange Student Survival Kit by Bettina Hansel


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