More American college and university students are taking advantage of study abroad programs, and for good reason. Through these often life-changing experiences, they experience new countries, immerse themselves in different cultures, and (hopefully) develop larger worldviews. Aside from personal relationships that are personally enriching, study abroad programs are usually filled with opportunities for field research, independent work, and professional internships.
Today, study abroad programs go beyond the exchange-student swap. They come in all shapes and sizes, to destinations all over the world, and with varying levels of individual immersion or cohort learning. What's more, study abroad programs are available to most academic disciplines, no matter how obscure. Whether you attend a small liberal arts college or a large university, study abroad opportunities are likely available to you -- and certainly worth exploring.
What Are the Best Study Abroad Programs?
|Rank||School||Location||Number of Programs||Description||Toggle|
|Syracuse, NY||Number of Programs: 100||
Based around seven university-owned centers in Europe, Turkey, Chile, and China, Syracuse University offers more than 100 study abroad programs in 60 countries. Studying abroad at the university's centers gives students rigorous academic experiences (and field trips) with constant support of dedicated Syracuse faculty and staff.
Students seeking more freedom in their overseas experiences or who are interested in taking classes with local students may find a better match through Syracuse's World Partner programs, which pair individuals with partner institutions in more than 60 cities around the globe. Short-term programs of one to three weeks, where students travel directly with a faculty member, are also available during the summer, winter, and spring breaks.
Whether studying abroad for a semester, academic year, or school break, all financial aid, tuition, grants, scholarships, and credits are handled directly through Syracuse University. This convenience lets students focus on their education and experience rather than worry about finances or credit hours getting where they need to be.
|Elon, NC||Number of Programs: 100||
Through their Global Education Center, Elon University offers a variety of study abroad programs to meet every student's needs. The statistics speak for themselves: At least 80% of students participate in a study abroad program during their time at Elon University.
University-owned centers in London, Shanghai, Florence, and Dunedin allow students semester-long opportunities to study full time, typically with the support of on-site faculty. Short-term programs, whether intensive three- to four-week courses or semester-long courses with travel components, are developed and led by Elon University faculty.
Additional study abroad options exist in the dual-degree program, where students spend their first two years studying at home and their last two studying overseas with university-supported and supervised independent internship or research experiences.
|Boston, MA||Number of Programs: 106||
In addition to independent study opportunities and traditional student exchange arrangements, Boston University boasts four university-owned centers around the world. It also has three university-supported study abroad program types on six continents, including programs at sea.
The program types include BU center, BU supported hybrid, and BU supported direct enroll. Students in BU center programs take classes at one of Boston University's overseas centers with staff and faculty on site. Supported hybrid programs are held at host institutions with courses taught by local BU faculty. Supported direct enroll allows students to enroll in host institution courses, but BU staff members remain on site to handle housing, internship placements, and more.
With more than a dozen academic disciplines represented -- including arts, sciences, education, law, and politics -- virtually every Boston University student can find a study abroad program to meets his or her needs.
|Washington, DC||Number of Programs: 190||
Each year, Georgetown University sends approximately 900 students abroad, where they can earn undergraduate and graduate academic credit in more than 50 countries. Representing all academic disciplines available at Georgetown, students may choose from 190 programs, each with varying degrees of on-site university support. Georgetown's three satellite campuses are located in Turkey, Qatar, and Italy.
Direct matriculation programs feature courses with languages of instruction in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian. These programs have moderate on-site support and are ideal for students seeking deeper cultural immersions. Georgetown faculty members also coordinate and lead cohorts of students in summer study abroad programs lasting between two and nine weeks.
In addition to traditional opportunities abroad, Georgetown University offers students courses that center on service work in underserved communities as well as programs for independent research and for practicing foreign language.
University of Evansville
|Evansville, IN||Number of Programs: 90||
The University of Evansville is a private university with about 90 study abroad programs available to undergraduate and graduate students. Evansville's "second home" is Harlaxton College in the United Kingdom, where the university's hallmark study abroad program takes place with faculty, support staff, and fellow students from Evansville and other partner schools.
Centered on a six-hour course in British studies -- complete with field trips, opportunities to engage in local sports, and weekends free to travel throughout Europe -- the Harlaxton College program offers enrollment in humanities and social science courses.
Beyond the UK, semester-long study abroad programs through the University of Evansville are available in Africa, Spain, South America, and Mexico. The school also offers short-term programs for students who would prefer more intensive, faculty-led explorations of global destinations with smaller groups of peers.
University of Washington
|Seattle, WA||Number of Programs: 300||
Impressively, the University of Washington offers more than 300 study abroad programs, representing thirteen global regions with opportunities for students to study at sea. Durations range from short-term programs of four weeks or fewer, quarter-long programs which align with the university calendar, semester-long programs of 15 weeks, and academic-year exchange programs.
Exploration seminars, the short-term programs, take place between the end of summer and the start of fall, and are coordinated and led by UW faculty. The other study abroad programs range in on-site support. For example, partner programs are administered by overseas universities and feature instruction in English, the host country's language, or a combination of the two. University exchanges and IE3 global internships typically have little on-site support from UW staff and are best suited for students seeking deeper immersion and independence.
University of Chicago
|Chicago, IL||Number of Programs: 55||
The University of Chicago offers more than 50 study abroad programs to undergraduate and graduate students. Although the quantity may not be as varied as other top study abroad schools, the University of Chicago provides students with on-site staff at a majority of locations and four university-owned centers across the globe.
The majority of the programs are led by the university's faculty, and Chicago graduate assistants are frequently housed in the same residence buildings or apartments as participating students. Located in Paris, Beijing, Delhi, and Hong Kong, university centers supply a central meeting place with a University of Chicago presence, featuring classrooms, offices, computer facilities, and library services for students and faculty.
Although three of its centers are located in Asia, available study abroad programs can take students anywhere: Istanbul, Milan, Kyoto, London, and Oaxaca are just a few of the global cities represented.
|Indianapolis, IN||Number of Programs: 200||
Approximately 500 students from Butler University study abroad each year. With 300 programs in regions that span from Australia and New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, to Asia and the Pacific, Butler offers maximum flexibility to fit each traveler's academic needs and personal goals.
Perhaps the most notable study abroad experience at Butler University is the faculty-led Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts (GALA) program. Offered each spring, this program changes destinations to ensure a unique experience for every 20-student cohort. The GALA program is a collaborative, semester-long experience in which students spend traveling with peers and a Butler faculty member. Courses consist of lectures, discussions, site visits and activities, and written assignments and exams. Multiple excursions allow for the experience of various cultures and locations.
Other faculty-led programs are offered during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Students looking for a full-immersion experience have options through the International Student Exchange Program or approved third-party provider programs.
University of Delaware
|Newark, DE||Number of Programs: 126||
The University of Delaware currently offers 126 study abroad programs available to full-time undergraduate students. Program length varies from three-month summer programs worth 12-15 credits, three- to five-week winter and summer programs worth up to seven credits, semester- or year-long student exchanges, and two- to eight-week unpaid internships.
Created in 2015, the World Scholars Program supplies a unique study abroad experience for select students with a "global ambition." In the World Scholars Program, students are involved in both local and international experiences for all four years of college. Starting from a freshman semester of study in New Zealand, Italy, or Spain, World Scholars can expect to participate in internationally focused academics, visit with foreign dignitaries and diplomats, and often pursue scholarship opportunities with the U.S. Fulbright Commision, Peace Corps, and several other international scholarships for postgraduate study or research.
|Boston, MA||Number of Programs: 170||
From 150 to 200, the number of available study abroad programs at Northeastern University varies from one academic year to the next. Eighteen disciplines are represented, including political science, engineering, history, cinema studies, and architecture. Students may even find themselves studying in one of nine global regions, including Antarctica!
One of the most popular study abroad programs at Northeastern is the Dialogue of Civilizations. These faculty-led programs are intensive 30-day programs offered during summer sessions and typically focus on specific topics. Study abroad terms are also offered for single semesters and full academic years.
Regardless of the duration, Northeastern University offers a high level of support for each study abroad student. All students are assigned a coordinator and adviser from the Global Experience Office to help with planning and preparation, and students are encouraged to remain in contact with these individuals while abroad.
University of Portland
|Portland, OR||Number of Programs: 22||
The University of Portland currently offers 25 study abroad programs of varying lengths to undergraduate students looking to expand their academic experiences. Programs range from semester-long programs, shorter summer sessions, and one full-year program in Salzburg.
In most of the study abroad programs offered by Portland, students are housed with host families in their city of study to provide an immersive cultural experience. Created in 1964, the Salzburg program allows students to enrich their cultural understanding through study German language, music, and art history, with excursions to museums, historical sites, and a number of cities: Delphi, Athens, Vienna, Rome, and Florence, to name a few.
University of Iowa
|Iowa City, IA||Number of Programs: 206||
Each year, more than 1,000 students spanning 70 majors participate in the University of Iowa's study abroad programs. The school offers 206 programs with locations in 75 countries. Nearly a dozen are even available to non-student travelers looking to expand their global horizons.
Programs are available at all levels of immersion. The goal of the University of Iowa's "island programs" is to replicate the American classroom experience in a foreign setting, using the site to reinforce and expand upon class content. Direct enrollment programs are at the other end of the spectrum, placing students in foreign classrooms with students and faculty from the host country. Hybrid programs bridge the gap between the two: Local faculty teach some course components, and students may enroll in classes at local universities or participate in local internships.
University of Arkansas
|Fayetville, AK||Number of Programs: 91||
Study abroad programs at the University of Arkansas vary in length, from two-week journeys to year-long stays. With options of nearly 100 study abroad programs, Arkansas students may find themselves enrolled at a partner university, travelling with a group of peers and faculty, or calling their home base the university-owned center in Rome, Italy.
Mere minutes from the Vatican and the Pantheon, the University of Arkansas Rome Center is perfect for students looking for the support and familiarity of Arkansas peers, staff, and faculty while simultaneously engaging with a larger international curriculum. Students regularly visit landmarks and museums within the city in addition to exploring nearby villas or travel to Florence. The center offers general core classes as well as courses in Italian culture, language, art, and history.
University of Dallas
|Dallas, TX||Number of Programs: 5||
Overall, the University of Dallas has a small number of study abroad programs, but it offers top-notch modern language curricula with intensive classroom instruction and real-life immersion. For instance, students can study business-focused Spanish (in Costa Rica), Spanish for healthcare professionals (in Spain), or French language, literature, and mass media (in Lyon). As well, students in science disciplines can study biodiversity (in Belize) or intern in biology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
The crowning achievement of study abroad programs at the University of Dallas is its campus in the heart of the Italian countryside, where students participate in the study of art, architecture, literature, theology, philosophy, and history. The curriculum of the Rome campus is supplemented with travel to Florence, Venice, Assisi, and Greece.
University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Number of Programs: 150||
The University of Denver has established partnerships with 150 study abroad programs and institutions around the world, from sub-Saharan Africa to Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. All study abroad programs at Denver are split into categories -- foundational, language, specialized, and exchange -- based on academic focus and admission requirements.
Foundational programs place students in English-speaking universities. Language programs consist of six or more credits of language courses, and, if available, students are required to take language courses at Denver before their program begins. Specialized programs have limited enrollment and may require a specific major or minor, and they may or may not have language requirements. Exchange students are required to study abroad for a full academic year.
All credit earned through the University of Denver's partner programs transfers directly to the student's domestic transcripts, making at least one area important of study abroad logistics worry-free.
|Carlisle, PA||Number of Programs: 50||
Dickinson College offers around 50 study abroad programs each year to undergraduate and graduate students looking to expand their global horizons. Despite the smaller quantity of programs, there is no shortage of variety when it comes to destinations: Australia, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Cameroon, Russia, Korea, Spain, and South America are all represented.
Though Dickinson College does not have full-fledged international satellite campuses, there are several global study and research centers dedicated to immersing students in foreign language study and the development of political, cultural, social, and economic understanding. Approximately 70% of study abroad students participate in the programs fostered by these Dickinson centers via partner universities.
Apart from Dickinson programs, students have options to study through partner programs with overseas institutions, short-term summer programs, non-Dickinson programs (with pre-approval), and individual interdisciplinary research programs and courses.
University of San Diego
|San Diego, CA||Number of Programs: 80||
Undergraduate students at the University of San Diego may participate in 80 study abroad programs located in 30 different countries. From short-term experiences of three or four weeks to full semesters abroad, program models feature a variety of opportunities: research, internships, community service, and student teaching.
Whether you're looking for an independent, immersive experience or a study program with close-by university support, there are options for you. The recently-established Madrid Center provides students with an extension of their home campus and full on-site support from USD faculty and staff. Semester exchange programs offer students the opportunity to experience full immersion at a network university, learning alongside local students.
Also worth noting is the truly unique dual degree program offered by USD's School of Business, where business majors may earn two business degrees at once: one from USD and another from a university abroad.
|Jackson, MI||Number of Programs: 15||
With an enrollment of fewer than 900 students, Mississippi's Millsaps College might not seem like an institution you would expect to offer numerous top-notch study abroad opportunities. However, with 15 programs of its own and a membership in the International Student Exchange Program, which opens the door to more than 300 universities across the globe, Millsaps is one of the top-ranking study abroad insitutitions in the nation.
Apart from the study abroad opportunities that most students would expect to find, Millsaps College's global involvement truly shines with its 4,500-acre biocultural reserve located in the tropical forests of the Yucatan Peninsula. This off-grid research center features dormitories, laboratory facilities, and classroom facilities. Since courses alternate each year, students can return more than once for study abroad opportunities and research in natural science and archaeology.
|Baltimore, MD||Number of Programs: 60||
Goucher College's study abroad program is consistently ranked highly. One reason for this success is that Goucher is the first liberal arts school in the country to require every student to study abroad. Since 2006, all of the college's students have completed at least one study abroad program before graduation.
With more than 2,000 students enrolled each year, the school necessarily supplies a variety of options. More than 60 programs offer students the chance to travel to 32 different countries for varying lengths of time (three-week summer session, full semester, academic year, or limited internship period).
Popular options at Goucher are intensive three-week faculty-led courses. Around 10 of these programs are scheduled annually during summer and winter breaks. Preceded by a weekly precourse at home, students and faculty arrive at their destination prepared to engage fully.
|Danville, KY||Number of Programs: 35||
Centre College boasts one of the highest percentage rates of students who participate in study abroad programs: 85% study abroad at least once before graduation. To this end, there is no shortage of options when it comes to location, term length, and program type.
Standard semester-length programs can be completed in nine countries: China, England, Scotland, Japan, Mexico, France, Northern Ireland, Spain, and Germany. Centre College also offers shorter summer session programs, including the popular Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS). Selected destinations vary, but these faculty-led, three-week programs run during winter and summer breaks with courses in most academic disciplines.
Maybe the most significant highlight of spending a semester studying abroad with Centre College is affordability. Scholarships and financial aid are applicable to the cost of your program, and the only fees students are required to cover beyond regular course tuition are a $375 deposit and airfare.
|Boston, MA||Number of Programs: 30||
Emerson College offers students a number of pathways toward studying abroad. The institution sponsors around 30 programs throughout the world and allows students to enroll for study through non-affiliated universities and programs. Emerson's popular Global Pathways programs are summer-session programs led by faculty, focused on popular topics such as screenwriting, travel writing, theater, and film production.
While standard study abroad opportunities such as Global Pathways are available in a number of different countries, Emerson College's premier program is housed in The Netherlands. Each year, 85 student applicants are selected through a random lottery for a place in the university-owned, 14th-century medieval castle Kasteel Well. Courses are mainly in general education, making the program ideal for sophomores. Juniors and seniors are welcome to apply as long as they can create a schedule of 16 credits. Highlights of the Kasteel Well program include extensive travel throughout Europe.
University of Richmond
|Richmond, VA||Number of Programs: 75||
Over 75 programs are available for students interesting in studying abroad at the University of Richmond. While the majority are offered as exchange or direct enroll programs through partner institutions, there are also a number of Richmond-affiliated programs for students to consider.
Many of the affiliate programs offered at Richmond are organized by the Council on International Educational Exchange, which has supplied study abroad programs to American students for decades. CIEE requires that students complete at least three semesters of study on-campus before participating in a semester abroad. CIEE programs at Richmond are currently available in a number of cities in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Students in CIEE programs typically live with host families.
If a residence hall or dormitory is preferred, direct enroll and exchange programs are likely a better fit. Students participating in these programs must apply for study through the partner university, but all applicable credit they earn will transfer back to Richmond.
|Gettysburg, PA||Number of Programs: 97||
More than half the student body at Gettysburg College participates in a semester-long study abroad program before graduation. Study abroad students at Gettysburg represent all academic disciplines as they complete coursework, internships, and field research in one of the nearly 100 programs available.
The Center for Global Education is the home of study abroad on the Gettysburg campus. Programs offered by the CGE are culturally immersive with limited on-site support from Gettysburg faculty or staff. That said, some programs will place Gettysburg and other U.S. students together.
Gettysburg's institutional priority on homestays means that placement with host families, rather than dormitory living arrangements, is required whenever possible. These immersive forms of studying abroad provide a rewarding experience for students, requiring daily engagement in the host country's culture.
|New London, CT||Number of Programs: 105||
Connecticut College offers more than 100 study abroad programs in 40 countries. An additional, small selection of programs, known as Study Away/Teach Away, is also available directly from Connecticut College.
Study Away/Teach Away is a semester-long, faculty-led program in which courses and locations vary each year according to the interests of professors in charge of the program. Small cohorts of students study and travel together throughout these programs, with classes occasionally given by faculty at the host institution. Rare for a study abroad program, international airfare is included in the program's cost.
For a more traditional study abroad experience, students can select from dozens of non-affiliated, college-approved programs in a range of academic disciplines. Because each program is arranged by a separate organization or institution, admission requirements, housing requirements, and program features may vary.
Sarah Lawrence College
|Bronxville, NY||Number of Programs: 18||
Sarah Lawrence College has the oldest and longest-running U.S. study abroad program to Cuba. More than half of all the college's students complete a study abroad program before they graduate.
As participants in Sarah Lawrence's study abroad programs, students may find themselves in England, Peru, France, Sub-Saharan Africa, Japan, Italy, China, or Cuba. Admission requirements, course offerings, and immersion experiences vary. In Shanghai, for example, students are paired with a Chinese roommate on campus, while in Florence, students live with host families. In Havana, all courses are taught in Spanish, while in Osaka, courses are taught in both English and Japanese.
Short-term summer programs are also offered to a limited number of students in Berlin and Florence, where students engage in the study of history and various art forms.