10 Colleges With the Best Study Abroad Programs

Many students study abroad to expose themselves to new languages and cultures. Discover the 10 colleges with the best study abroad programs.
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Updated on March 8, 2023
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Hannah Muniz is a senior editor with BestColleges, specializing in college planning, test prep, student life, and sponsored content. She previously worked as a freelance writer, composing articles on the SAT/ACT, higher education, language learning, ...
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Many college grads view studying abroad as a defining experience of their time in school. The weeks or months they spent in another country likely not only broadened their worldviews but also allowed them to build lasting relationships while developing critical skills for career development.

Here, we introduce our picks for the 10 colleges with the best study abroad programs. Rankings were determined in part using 2019-20 study abroad data from Open Doors.

We also considered factors like the number, diversity, and curricular strength of schools' study abroad programs; the availability of study abroad scholarships and other financial aid; and overall institutional prestige.

1. New York University — New York, NY

With campuses in more than a dozen countries and over 3,000 students abroad in 2019-20, NYU has some of the best study abroad programs available. Undergraduates can visit cities like Prague, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, and Buenos Aires. They can also travel to Accra, Ghana, taking classes with local students through direct enrollment.

In addition to conventional overseas experiences, NYU offers trips specifically for first-year students, as well as summer and January study abroad programs. Grad students can complete an MA in historical and sustainable architecture in London.

Those who study abroad at one of NYU's global locations benefit from fully transferable tuition, financial aid, and course credits. Funding opportunities include the Global Pathways Scholarship, which awards up to $8,000 for a semester abroad.

2. Texas A&M University — College Station, TX

With over 400 study abroad programs in 110 countries, Texas A&M is a top public institution for studying abroad. Study abroad options include traditional exchanges with partner universities, faculty-led excursions, and other programs offered through affiliate providers.

Students with busy schedules can go on short field trips associated with a for-credit course or a noncredit capstone or research experience. The university also lets students earn course credit and apply for institutional funding for independent travel.

Texas A&M offers a variety of study abroad scholarships, including the Globetrotter Grant worth $2,000.

3. University of Texas at Austin — Austin, TX

UT Austin students can access more than 400 study abroad programs in 100 countries. Options include reciprocal exchanges with one of the university's more than 130 partner schools, such as the University of Melbourne in Australia and Kyoto University in Japan.

Students can choose either a summer trip or semesterlong exchange. UT Austin even offers virtual study abroad experiences as of spring 2021.

In addition to helping applicants find the right program and calculate expenses, advisors assist with financial aid. The school provides funding based on destination and additional scholarships for first-generation students.

4. San Diego State University — San Diego, CA

SDSU maintains a diverse catalog of study abroad programs through a network of over 350 partner universities in more than 50 countries. These reciprocal exchanges allow students to retain their home tuition rate.

Program types include semester long international and exchange programs, short-term global seminars, and 1-to-2-day excursions to Mexico.

Students can apply for a variety of institutional aid, such as the Associated Students Study Abroad Scholarship, which requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and is open to all majors.

5. Indiana University Bloomington — Bloomington, IN

At IU, a whopping 1 in 3 graduating seniors has studied abroad. The university's Office of Overseas Study manages more than 380 study abroad programs in over 70 countries. Options include a semester in New Zealand for social work majors and a yearlong program for epidemiology students in Lima, Peru.

Students who enroll in one of these institutional exchanges can earn full credit for courses taken. They can still use their financial aid packages and benefit from comprehensive advising services through the duration of their overseas experience.

Alternatively, students can opt to take advantage of one of the best study abroad programs offered by an external organization, the Council on International Educational Exchange, known as CIEE.

6. University of Wisconsin-Madison — Madison, WI

Around 1,600 UW-Madison students studied abroad in 2019-20 through one of the university's more than 260 programs. Learners can choose to study in more than 65 countries, including France, Ghana, China, and Argentina. Virtual study abroad programs are also available.

UW-Madison allows incoming students to study in London their first year of college through its Global Launch in London program. Alternatively, incoming students can study abroad the summer before the fall term through the Summer Launch program.

Scholarships and funding assistance are available.

7. University of Virginia — Charlottesville, VA

One of the best public universities in the country, UVA sent just over 1,100 students abroad in 2019-20. The school oversees a variety of study abroad and student exchange programs in countries like Italy, Scotland, New Zealand, and South Korea. Currently, it maintains exchange agreements with over 50 institutions around the world.

Students can choose to study abroad for up to one academic year, as well as during the summer and January terms. UVA also offers virtual global internships.

The school's International Studies Office gives out around a dozen study abroad scholarships each year. In 2018-19, the office awarded over $250,000 in study abroad aid to students.

8. University of Washington — Seattle, WA

Nearly 1,500 UW students studied abroad in 2019-20. The top public university offers more than 250 study abroad programs and facilitates reciprocal exchanges with over 70 partner institutions, including Bogaziçi University in Istanbul and the National University of Singapore.

Students can pursue major-specific departmental exchanges, too. Short-term options known as exploration seminars focus on topics like the natural and cultural history of Costa Rica, corporate social responsibility in Cambodia, and oceanography in Micronesia.

Before they embark, students work with an academic advisor to compare program costs and create a budget. UW Study Abroad Scholarships provide up to $4,000 for study abroad programs that last longer than a quarter.

9. University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, MI

A leading research university, U-M emphasizes global engagement through its vast selection of study abroad opportunities. Students who want to earn academic credit for their travels can enroll in semesterlong or yearlong programs in cities like Taipei, Dublin, Cape Town, and Zurich.

U-M facilitates short trips for students pursuing graduate degrees in nursing midwifery, business administration, and dentistry. The institution also provides domestic options, including a semester in Detroit, which is open to any student who wants to gain experience working with community and social justice organizations.

Many financial aid options are available for study abroad students, such as the Stein Family Study Abroad Scholarship and the Ginns International Scholars Fund.

10. University of Minnesota Twin Cities — Minneapolis, MN

UMN facilitates international education and professional development through its Learning Abroad Center. The school offers over 150 study abroad programs in more than 50 countries around the world. Students can apply for exchange programs with partner institutions in destinations like Iceland, Austria, and Japan.

The university also provides experiential seminars, with options such as community-led solidarity in South Africa and social startups in Ghana.

Depending on the program, UMN students can transfer their current financial aid and access scholarships based on research, diversity, and major.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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