Best Study Abroad Schools

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Learners interested in seeing the world while earning college credit can consider studying abroad. The best study abroad programs allow students to experience new cultures and languages, explore global careers, and develop independence while navigating the world.

The Institute of International Education estimates that about 16% of all bachelor’s students study abroad.

In the 2015-2016 school year, 325,339 U.S. students participated in study abroad programs, up 4% from the year before. The Institute of International Education estimates that about 16% of all bachelor’s students study abroad.

This page explores information for interested students to research and explains which schools have the best study abroad programs. Keep reading for our list of the top 10 study abroad schools.

Best Study Abroad Schools

Read more about these colleges.

How to Study Abroad

Students wondering how to study abroad should begin researching eligibility requirements and deadlines. Colleges often hold study abroad information sessions covering global study options and the application process.

Eligibility requirements vary, but some universities require learners to declare their majors and complete two years of study before studying abroad. Study abroad programs may require applicants to hold minimum GPAs and meet foreign language requirements. Students facing disciplinary actions typically can not study abroad.

Learners looking to study abroad can take several pathways to international education. Some schools offer study abroad opportunities through global campuses, allowing degree-seekers to remain enrolled with their schools and study at different locations. Candidates may also transfer study abroad credits to their home university once their program is complete.

Study abroad applicants should research their school’s credit policies and financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Consider meeting with an academic advisor and study abroad advisor to learn more about available programs and how they will impact your academic plan.

Below, we explain how we chose the best schools for studying abroad.

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The Best Colleges With Study Abroad Programs

To find the top study abroad schools, we weighed factors like reputation, the number and location of global campuses and programs, along with accreditation status. We featured only a sample of the study abroad locations available for most schools on our list.

We also considered residence options, program variety, academic rigor, and experiential learning options for each school. Keep reading to learn about the top 10 universities with the best study abroad programs.

University of Denver

Denver, CO

Study Abroad Locations

  • Aix en Provence, France
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Lund, Sweden
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Perth, Australia
  • Rennes, France
  • Leon, Spain
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Bangkok, Thailand

This private university in Denver, Colorado, serves about 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students. DU fosters an international community of students, researchers, and faculty members from 80 countries.

Most DU students (about 70%) study abroad, usually during their junior year. Its Office of International Education features 150 study abroad programs in over 50 countries. The Cherrington Global Scholars program covers some study abroad expenses for eligible students, including travel.

Study abroad participants can learn about political ecology and wildlife conservation in Tanzania, sustainability in Thailand, and Japanese culture and language in Tokyo. Another global study option includes DU’s medical and dental brigades. This program invites students to visit Panama and Nicaragua during spring break to offer medical care and work on local infrastructure projects.

Goucher College

Baltimore, MD

Study Abroad Locations

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Paris, France
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Seville, Spain
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand

Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, emphasizes education beyond the classroom, with community-based learning, internships, and a large global study program. In 2006, Goucher became the first liberal arts college in the U.S. to require every undergraduate to study abroad at least once before graduating.

Study abroad experiences include an internship with the British parliament; an exploration of gender, race, and urbanization in South Africa; and language learning in Spain. Goucher graduates may continue their international education by joining the Peace Corps or becoming Fulbright scholars.

Study abroad options include three-week intensive classes taught by Goucher faculty, international internships, semester programs related to students’ majors, and longer study abroad opportunities. Students completing semester programs or intensive courses abroad can apply for Goucher’s global education scholarships.

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Study Abroad Locations

  • Winneba, Ghana
  • Nebaj, Guatemala
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Paris, France
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Athens, Greece
  • Salta, Argentina
  • Hangzhou, China
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Mexico City, Mexico

This private research university in Evanston, Illinois, serves 21,000 students and accepts just 9% of applicants. About half of Northwestern students participate in the school’s 150 study abroad programs across 50 countries.

The university’s study abroad options include exchanges with partner universities, Northwestern-affiliated programs, and unaffiliated programs delivered by other universities or providers. The university’s Global Engagement Studies Institute provides collaborative, experiential learning opportunities in locations like Ghana, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Vietnam.

Other global learning experiences include advanced Russian language and area studies in Kazakhstan, ancient culture and the modern city in Athens, Greece, and a London theater program. Students can learn about conservation in Ecuador, human rights in Morocco, and social and political transformation in South Africa.

Study abroad costs vary, but learners completing Northwestern-affiliated programs can use financial aid to pay for the experience.

University of San Diego

San Diego, CA

Study Abroad Locations

  • Madrid, Spain
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Rio de Janeiro , Brazil
  • Beijing, China
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Paro, Bhutan
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Cork, Ireland

A Catholic university serving more than 8,800 students, USD offers 43 bachelor’s degrees and more than 40 graduate programs. The school also features 17 NCAA Division I teams.

USD undergraduates can choose from more than 80 study abroad programs in over 30 countries. Global learning opportunities include internships, student teaching, research, and community service. The school’s international center offers short-term, semester-long, and dual-degree programs.

The university established its first permanent international location in Madrid in 2014. Short-term study abroad opportunities include an exploration of the Renaissance in Florence, Italy; memory and justice in Argentina; and a tour of Korea, Taiwan, and Cambodia. USD’s university ministry offers community service experiences in Tijuana each month and week-long programs in Latin America.

Indiana University Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

Study Abroad Locations

  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Jerusalem, Israel
  • Lima, Peru
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • London, England
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Nagoya, Japan
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Paris, France

Created in 1820, IU is the school’s flagship campus. The university serves more than 32,000 students from 141 different countries.

IU’s history of faculty-initiated global study programs dates to the 19th century. One in three IU graduates has studied abroad. The university’s Office of Overseas Study coordinates more than 380 study abroad programs in over 70 countries.

Students can choose from short-term and year-long for-credit options, along with non-credit experiential learning programs for working and volunteering abroad. Study abroad participants use more than $14 million in financial aid from various sources each year.

Global education programs explore community public health in Botswana, community development and social justice in South Africa, and advanced Arabic language in Jordan. Students can complete internships in Chile, learn about tropical ecology and conservation in Costa Rica, and spend a summer creating studio art in China.

New York University

New York, NY

Study Abroad Locations

  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Accra, West Africa
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Florence, Italy
  • Shanghai, China
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Portugal

NYU, as one of the largest private universities in the U.S., welcomes students from over 130 countries. The university features 11 global academic centers on five continents and degree-granting campuses in New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi.

Unlike other schools that do not allow first-year students to study abroad, NYU offers programs in Paris, London, Florence, and Madrid for some first-year learners. First-year abroad programs may last one semester or an entire academic year. NYU also provides dedicated scholarships and financial aid for study abroad students.

NYU’s undergraduate semester or academy year away program allows learners to earn credits towards their majors while living in foreign countries like the Czech Republic, Australia, Israel, or Ghana. The university also offers international exchange opportunities, along with summer abroad, school-specific, and January term study abroad programs.

Georgetown University

Washington, D.C.

Study Abroad Locations

  • Fiesole, Italy
  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Seville, Spain
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Shanghai, China
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Monterrey, Mexico
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Nantes, France

The oldest Jesuit Catholic university in the U.S., Georgetown offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 50 disciplines. Georgetown’s Office of Global Education helps students earn academic credit while experiencing short and long-term international learning in more than 50 countries.

About 900 students from the school’s McDonough School of Business, Walsh School of Foreign Service, and School of Nursing and Health Studies learn abroad each year. International programs include business courses, faculty-led summer sessions, and service learning.

Study abroad courses explore international studies and multilateral diplomacy in Switzerland; development, gender, and change in the Himalayas of Nepal; and language and area studies in Freiburg, Germany. Students can also learn about urban public health in Argentina; comparative ecology and conservation in Ecuador; and business and culture in Barcelona.

University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX

Study Abroad Locations

  • Salvador, Brazil
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Brighton, England
  • Legon, Ghana
  • Athens, Greece
  • Frieburg, Germany
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Tokyo, Japan

As the flagship school of the University of Texas System, UT Austin enrolls more than 51,000 students and employs 3,000 teaching faculty members. The school offers dozens of degrees in the arts, humanities, and sciences. International experiences cover study, service, research, and internships. UT Austin students of all majors can choose from 400 programs in 80 different countries.

Study abroad options include working with underserved communities in Costa Rica, project management and economics in Denmark, and a semester of mathematics in Budapest. The Freeman Scholars program offers substantial financial support to undergraduate and graduate students interning in east and southeast Asia.

The university features reciprocal study abroad programs with more than 130 universities globally, including University of Exeter in England, Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 in France, and University of Limerick in Ireland.

Yale University

New Haven, CT

Study Abroad Locations

  • Bologna, Italy
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Canberra, Australia
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Cave Hill, Barbados
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia

A private Ivy League school founded in 1701, Yale is one of the oldest and well-known postsecondary institutions in the U.S. The school offers 100 academic departments and programs.

Students can choose from hundreds of study abroad opportunities, including a year or term abroad, Yale summer sessions abroad, and non-Yale summer abroad. Programs include a community public health seminar in Buenos Aires, sustainability and environmental action in Australia, and a summer of music history and performance in Vienna.

Yale also offers semester and year-long student exchanges with universities like Australian National University, Trinity College Dublin, and Tel Aviv University. Exchange students take classes at foreign universities that count toward their Yale degrees.

Eligibility criteria vary depending on the program type, but students may need to complete language prerequisites and meet minimum GPA requirements.

Elon University

Elon, NC

Study Abroad Locations

  • Shanghai, China
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Florence, Italy
  • Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Rabat, Morocco
  • Montreal, Quebec

A private university established in North Carolina in 1889, Elon features several experiential learning programs. Students come from 49 different countries and almost every state in the U.S.

Elon’s robust study abroad program includes more than 100 options in over 50 countries. Students majoring in any discipline can find short-term and long-term global education opportunities. International courses include wilderness and adventure therapy in Peru, democracy and diplomacy in India, and the future of global business in Shanghai, China.

The school is committed to expanding access to study abroad experiences and aims to offer the experience to all of its students. Elon is increasing the amount of financial aid for study abroad for students who need it. Eighty-five percent of Elon graduates study abroad at least once in college.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should you consider when choosing a study abroad program?

    Interested students should research campus locations, program availability, and residence options. Other important considerations include academic rigor, reputation, and cost.

  • What are the requirements to study abroad?

    Requirements for study abroad programs vary, but may include a minimum GPA, foreign language experience, and letters of recommendation. Students must find a way to pay for their study abroad program.

  • Is it expensive to study abroad?

    The cost of studying abroad varies with program, institution, location, and duration. Short-term options usually cost less than long-term opportunities. Affordability typically ranks among the most important concerns for study abroad students.

  • What academic year is best to study abroad?

    Students may take advantage of study abroad opportunities throughout college. However, most schools suggest that junior year is the best time to complete a long-term study abroad program.

  • How can I make my study abroad application stand out?

    Students can make their study abroad applications stand out by highlighting foreign language proficiency and establishing how international learning will affect their educational careers.

Featured Images: andresr / E+ / Getty Images

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