Another perk of studying abroad? The sightseeing! Photo courtesy of ChrisYunker. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Thinking of taking some classes abroad? Studying abroad is a great resume booster, a way to advance your academic and career goals, and an opportunity to learn to be truly independent, among other things. Should you choose to pursue global study, there are several avenues open to you. When deciding on the perfect study abroad program, you will have to consider many factors including academic requirements, language differences, and cost. If you think studying abroad is something you might be interested in, read on to find out what type of study abroad program is right for you!


A study abroad program sponsored by your school - Especially if you go to a large university, there’s a big possibility that your school already has its’ own study-away sites (or sites they share with foreign universities) where you can continue to take classes and earn credits through your home institution. These types of study abroad programs are sponsored by your home institution, and the classes are taught by the home institution’s faculty. 

This is for you if: You want to have the structure and convenience of taking classes with your home university. You don’t want to worry about the hassle of transferring credits from a foreign university. You want to take classes in English, and with other American students from your school. You want to have a familiar community around you. You don’t want to spend a whole semester or a year abroad or you want to go during the summer. 


An international exchange program sponsored by your school – If your school does not have their own program in a city you are interested in, they might still have an exchange agreement with a foreign university that allows students from your school to enroll as an international student for a semester or a year. Just like with a study abroad program sponsored by your school, you’ll still pay tuition to your home institution. Sometimes, the foreign universities will offer courses taught in English to exchange students, but not always. Make sure to find out this information before you apply. 

This is for you if: None of your school’s study away sites interest you. You want to study a language in a country where your school doesn’t have a study away site.  You want more exposure to the local culture of a city. You want more opportunities to interact with a city’s local population. You want to take classes through a foreign university and know that the credits will transfer to your school with ease. 


An international exchange program not sponsored by your school – If there is a study abroad program sponsored by a foreign university that you want to attend, chances are you can get your school to approve your choice. The process will be a little more complicated than if you studied abroad with your home institution– you will probably have to take a leave of absence from your home institution, since you are going to enroll in a different university for a semester or year, and you’ll be paying tuition to school you are visiting. You also need to find classes that are suitable for the degree you are pursuing and work with an adviser to see how the credits will transfer. Obviously, the policies and procedures at each university are different, so make sure to start planning early. 

This is for you if: You go to a small college that doesn’t offer any of their own study abroad programs. You want to go to a country where your school doesn’t have a study-away site or any exchange agreements. You’re set on going to a specific university that your school doesn’t have an exchange agreement with. You’re not worried about being the only student from your school (or even from the U.S.) in your classes. You want to challenge yourself by taking classes taught in a country’s native language. 


Again, whatever path you decide to take, studying abroad is sure to be a rich and rewarding experience. I know many people who say that their time abroad was the most valuable (and fun!) part of their college experience. I hope that you learned some information that will be helpful when exploring and choosing from your many options for studying abroad!