Can You Study Abroad Over Winter Break?

Winter break study abroad programs take students around the globe. Learn more about how short-term study abroad programs work in college.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published December 15, 2021

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Can You Study Abroad Over Winter Break?


Each year, tens of thousands of college students study abroad. During a study abroad program, learners live in a host country and often take classes at a local university. But what about students who can't spend a full year or semester abroad?

Fortunately, students can enroll in a short-term study abroad program over winter break. Winter break study abroad programs can take learners to many popular destinations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

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Ready to start your journey?

Why Study Abroad Over Winter Break?

Winter break is a great time to travel — and why not earn college credits over break? Studying abroad during winter break lets students take immersive classes in between semesters.

During a short-term study abroad program, you can explore a new culture by learning about your host country's history, language, and lifestyle.

Unlike longer study abroad programs, short-term programs that operate between terms let students experience studying abroad without disrupting their progress toward their degree. Short-term programs can also reduce costs and help students receive college credit for international travel.

How Does a Short-Term Study Abroad Program Work?

During a short-term study abroad program, learners immerse themselves in another culture. Most winter break study abroad programs last 2-3 weeks, with many offering programs during the January term. Some programs may offer shorter or longer options.

How to Apply to Study Abroad

Students can sign up for short-term programs through their college's study abroad program or through international programs that specialize in studying abroad.

Reach out to your campus study abroad department to learn more about your options. Advisors can suggest when to apply and explain the overall process.

For independent programs, students can often apply online. The program will help ensure you meet any and all international requirements. For example, most short-term study abroad programs do not require a special visa.

How to Pay for Study Abroad

Short-term study abroad programs typically cost $3,000-$4,000, depending on the program. However, students may be on the hook for additional costs such as airfare and transportation.

Learners may pay for study abroad in several ways. They can pay out of pocket, take out loans, or apply for grants and scholarships. Programs offered through their school may also qualify for federal financial aid support.

Before signing up for a study abroad program, contact your school's financial aid office to ask about its policies.

How to Earn College Credit While Abroad

Study abroad programs typically offer college credit for courses in foreign languages, history, business, and other subjects. Depending on the program, learners may take courses directly through the program or at a local university. Most winter break programs award three credits for 2-3 weeks of intensive coursework.

Before signing up for a study abroad program, check with your school to make sure the credits will transfer and count toward your degree requirements.

5 Popular Winter Study Abroad Programs

What are the best countries for study abroad? Winter study abroad programs take learners around the globe, from Asia and the Mediterranean to the Southern Hemisphere, where students can enjoy warm summer weather over their winter break.

1. IES Abroad on the Galápagos Islands

The scenic Galápagos Islands offer winter break study abroad programs through the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences. Learners explore marine habitats and study the ecology of the islands that inspired Charles Darwin. The program does not require language prerequisites and uses English as the language of instruction.

2. CIS Abroad in Barcelona

Winter break in Barcelona blends Spanish language and culture classes in an engaging location. Students attend classes at the Barcelona SAE Academic Study Center, which uses small classes and experiential learning opportunities. Learners also participate in field studies, museum visits, and other cultural events in the city.

3. CIEE in Cape Town

Study abroad students can experience summer in South Africa through CIEE's Cape Town program. The program covers South Africa's history and includes immersive activities that allow you to explore the country's culture. Learners participate in an intensive orientation and take three weeks of classes at the CIEE Cape Town center.

4. TEAN in Korea

Located in Seoul, this study abroad program offers students the chance to earn 3-6 credits during the January term. Participants enroll in classes at either Korea University or Hanyang University. Outside the classroom, the program encourages participants to explore Seoul and its culture. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA to apply to TEAN study abroad programs.

5. CEA in Paris

During a two-week intensive language program, learners can strengthen their French language skills. The program grants three credits and covers topics like French culture. The CEA Paris Center, located in the Marais District, welcomes both study abroad students and local French students.


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