Most students understand the benefits of studying abroad: you get to travel internationally while building a resume or earning academic credit; you step out of your comfort zone to experience a new culture and possibly learn a new language; you make lifelong friends across the globe, and you can discover new interests and career opportunities. But did you know that more and more, businesses and organizations are realizing the need to hire college graduates with international experience? Even Congress is working to help colleges make study abroad opportunities more easily accessible through the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act of 2017, which was reviewed and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in early March.
As the number of companies that target globally competent business men and women continues to grow, so does the percentage of students studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released in November, the number of students receiving academic credit for study abroad is rising each year. More than 313,000 U.S. students earned credit through study abroad programs during 2014-15, about three percent more than the previous year. Open Doors 2016 also found that over 22,000 students participated in non-credit work, internships and volunteering abroad to gain practical skills and international experience while building their resumes.
For those of you wondering how to study abroad, the schools on this list provide ample opportunities to tailor a great study abroad program to your interests and goals. Whether you’re looking to gain new experiences by exploring the world or take part in an academically rigorous faculty-led study abroad program, these top colleges will allow you to satisfy that travel bug. As always, we focus on each college and program’s value. Through our ranking system, we aimed to highlight the best study abroad programs by considering schools that send students to the best countries to study abroad in, the affordability of both the school and its program, the programs’ benefits, whether the school offers scholarships for study abroad and more.
We sourced information from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator Database, U.S. News & World Report, Wikipedia, the individual schools’ websites, and other college resource websites listed at the end of this article.
We developed this ranking by starting with a list of 100 colleges and universities collected from various rankings and sources, including U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 list of schools with the highest percentage of students studying abroad. We want to find the best value for our readers, so we narrowed that list down to the 50 cheapest colleges, and we ranked the top 30 using the point system below. All colleges and universities on this list are accredited.
The point system we used in our ranking works as follows:
- Tuition Affordability: Net Cost is less than $15,000 (1); less than $10,000 (2)
- Percentage of Students Studying Abroad: 70 to 90 percent (1); above 90 percent (2)
- Program Types Available: Study abroad internship/research/volunteer program (1); class credit for studying abroad/faculty led programs (2); multifaceted programs (i.e. credit and internship) (3)
- Program Management: If a majority of the programs are managed by the school (1); 10 programs with different destinations offered by the university (2); more than 10 school-sanctioned study abroad destinations (3)
- Program Depth/Extent Traveling to multiple countries within one program (1); international campus (1); non-competitive programs available (1); additional unique program/school benefits (1 each)
- Program Length: Two weeks or less (1); three to eight weeks (2); semester long study abroad (3); full year abroad (4)
- Study Abroad Scholarships Available: Any (1); five or more (2)
- Awards and Recognition: International accolade (2), national accolade (1)
When two or more schools earned the same number of points, their rank order was determined by the schools’ affordability. The schools with lower net costs received the better ranking (lower net cost = lower number).
15. Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
Susquehanna University’s Global Opportunities Program offers students a number of different destinations and program lengths to satisfy their cultural competency curriculum requirement.
Points Awarded: 21
Net Cost: $27,783
Program Cost: Starting around $2,000 (GO Short) *Not all program costs are listed online
Susquehanna University is a four-year, private liberal arts university that offers more than 100 majors and minors and small classes to its 2,200 students, 96 percent of whom receive some sort of financial aid. Susquehanna’s Global Opportunities Program (GO) is part of the university’s central curriculum and offers a variety of domestic and international study abroad opportunities.
Students at SU have the options to “GO” short, long or in their own way with two- to six-week or semester long programs that are hosted by the university, as well as external providers, many of which are already approved by the university for acceptable academic credit. With GO Your Own Way, students can design their own two-week or longer study abroad program through their own research by meeting with an advisor and submitting a proposal for the trip. In 2013, IIE presented SU with the highest award for facilitating study abroad opportunities and increasing students’ cultural competency. To help fund the way, students can be eligible for a GO Short Grant and can keep their traditional financial aid during a GO Long semester. The Financial Aid section of the school’s study abroad webpage lists the least expensive semester programs from each region. Most of the GO Short trips satisfy two semester credit hours in addition to the GO requirement while the GO Long trips can cover a semester’s worth of academic credit.
14. Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth College organizes a wide variety of great study abroad programs students can use for class credit, international internships or fellowships.
Points Awarded: 21
Net Cost: $21,348
Program Cost: Regular tuition and service fees, plus additional costs, as low at $3,000, established for each individual program
Founded in 1769, Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university and one of the nine pre-American Revolution colonial colleges. About 4,300 enrolled students have access to 40 departments and programs at the undergraduate college, but this university is incredibly competitive, receiving 20,675 applications for the Class of 2020 and admitting just 1,121 students.
The Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education is home to Dartmouth’s academic off-campus programs, in which over 55 percent of the student population participates before graduation. Because of the college’s faculty involvement, these off-campus programs and the experiences they offer are tightly knit into the campus’ curriculum. Dartmouth offers four main credit-bearing study abroad opportunities: Dartmouth Language Study Abroad (LSA and LSA+); Dartmouth Foreign Study Programs (FSP); Dartmouth Exchange Programs, and Transfer Credit from an unaffiliated four-year, degree-granting, academic institution. The college’s website lists a variety of scholarships for study abroad, 12 of which the school must endorse or nominate students to earn the awards. Non-credit fall, winter, spring and summer international internships and fellowships are available through the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding with a maximum available funding of $4,000, collectible from 22 different college-sponsored opportunities. Short-term programs are available to students through study area-specific Global Insight Expeditions.
13. Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia
Not including its partnership programs, Emory & Henry College’s study abroad programs sends its students to numerous locations around the world for as few as nine days and as long as a full year.
Points Awarded: 21
Net Cost: $21,299
Program Cost: Starting around $1,750 (including airfare) for an Emory Abroad course
Founded in 1836, Emory & Henry College is a private liberal arts college that enrolls 1,012 undergraduate students and offers an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, 64 programs of study, small classes and financial aid awards to 99 percent of its students. Through International Education, E&H students have access to over 150 study abroad programs via organization partnerships, Emory’s summer, semester and full-year abroad programs and Emory Abroad courses with short-term international adventures.
The faculty-led Emory Abroad courses allow students take an on-campus class around a topic related to one of the multitude of locations offered in Africa, Europe, and Central or South America. At the end of the semester, the class travels overseas together for a two-week expedition. Some of these programs have students traveling to multiple countries in one go, like Cross Cultural Psychology in the Czech Republic and Poland. While all language study and summer abroad programs are administered by external organizations, Emory sends its students on abroad programs and exchanges for the semester and full year. The Emory & Henry College Semester in Dublin, Ireland invites students to study Irish heritage and culture while enrolling in courses at Dublin City University and working 10-15 hours weekly in a community organization or business. Although the abroad courses and accompanying adventure trips start under $2,000 with airfare, Emory & Henry makes studying abroad more affordable with three college-sponsored scholarships with awards ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.
12. College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina
At the College of Charleston, students have the opportunity to go on some of the best study abroad trips, including an excursion to watch and learn about English football.
Points Awarded: 21
Net Cost: $18,677
Program Cost: Starting around $1,350 (not including meals)
Established in 1770, the College of Charleston is a public liberal arts and sciences university with a beautiful, historic campus in the heart of the city where over 10,000 undergraduates can choose from 59 majors. The Center for International Education offers faculty-led study abroad trips and international exchanges at more than 24 partner universities, and the office advises students interested in any of the college-approved affiliate programs.
CofC students can study abroad for as little as one week during spring break, up to three months of the summer term or throughout the fall and spring semesters. From flying to the U.K. to watch soccer while learning about English football, to going on a hiking pilgrimage in Spain for one academic credit, the college’s opportunities abroad are unique and guaranteed to give more students the travel bug. Through the school-facilitated semester trips abroad, students can earn up to 15 credit hours and live with local families. Any financial aid a student has will apply like a normal semester for CofC’s faculty-led programs, and the CIE offers $1,500-$2,000 scholarships toward any kind of approved study abroad programs alongside five other college-funded study abroad scholarships. The school’s summer internship abroad programs in France and Germany, worth three to six credits, are available across various career fields in Berlin and Paris. The CIE sponsors an annual photo contest for study abroad students with cash awards, publishes student experience blogs and offers its own peer advisor internship on campus.
11. Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
At Juniata College students who want to study abroad are able to choose programs that last anywhere from two weeks to a full academic year.
Points Awarded: 22
Net Cost: $26,035
Program Cost: Starting around $3,000
Founded in 1876, Juniata College is an independent, private, four-year, co-educational college in the Allegheny Mountains with 1,632 students and an average class size of 19. About 48 percent of graduates have had an international experience through one of the 59 different study abroad programs, which travel to 24 different countries.
Juniata’s Center for International Education offers university hosted and outsourced study abroad options where students can travel overseas during the summer, winter, fall/spring semester and full academic year. Most of the trips Juniata hosts are two to four weeks long. Students can earn one to four academic credits and become fully-immersed in the culture by staying with local families. In a just one program, students get to travel to Ireland and the United Kingdom while exploring the roles of education, peace and conflict studies, as well as psychology. Juniata’s partnerships with universities around the world facilitate foreign exchange programs where students can live and learn at a university in the Philippines, China, Japan, France, Germany and other countries for one semester or the full academic year.
10. Duke University in Durham, North Carolina
Duke University students have the opportunity to study abroad at one of the school’s campuses in Singapore and China.
Points Awarded: 22
Net Cost: $21,295
Program Cost: Starting around $6,500 (not including airfare and other expenses)
Founded by Methodists and Quakers in 1838, Duke University is a private research university on nearly 9,000 gorgeous acres that include a marine laboratory, gardens, historic chapel and 210-foot tower. The 15,000 students enrolled at this university can study abroad through many opportunities, including the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, Duke Kunshan University in China and research and education programs around the world.
The Global Education Office (GEO) for Undergraduates offers international and domestic study away through the university-directed Duke-In program. Students have participated in the oldest programs — Duke in China and Duke in France — for more than 25 years. Today, they can travel abroad to 20 different destinations through the university’s semester and four to eight-week summer programs. If you still aren’t impressed with Duke’s offerings, students are allowed to petition a program of their choice for the Faculty Global Education Committee’s approval. While the Duke-approved (external) programs include a $4,580 study abroad fee, semester financial aid is applicable to all programs. Duke funds four different scholarships for summer study abroad, and those accepted to a college-administered program are automatically considered for the Stephenson Pope Babcock Scholarships. Annually, the GEO hosts the Global Education Fair to put all of the school’s study abroad resources on display. Interested students can talk to other students, program faculty/staff and academic advisors all in one place.
9. University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware
The University of Delaware sent students on America’s first study abroad program in 1923.
Points Awarded: 22
Net Cost: $15,149
Program Cost: Starting around $3,200
Opened in 1743, the University of Delaware is the largest university in the state with locations across Delaware, seven academic colleges and over 23,000 students enrolled. UD created America’s first study abroad program in 1923, and today its students have access to more than 100 study abroad programs in over 40 countries.
UD is the most affordable college that earned a spot on The Princeton Review’s 2017 list of top study abroad schools. Its Institute for Global Studies (IGS) coordinates about 100 programs annually, specializing in short-term, faculty-led programs. Students can study abroad at UD for as little as one week (spring break) and as long as one semester, with the option of a foreign exchange program. Whether you’re looking to spend a winter in Antarctica or complete a summer internship in Vietnam, UD can send you there. To help students afford these trips, IGS offers two scholarship programs, need-based scholarships and the Delaware Diplomats program. For the semester-long study abroad programs, students must register for at least 12 credits, and each program’s page lists the available course options. Some programs include multiple countries within the semester; some are more competitive than others, and many programs offer students both a semester’s worth of academic credits and an internship.
8. Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut
Every student at Connecticut College receives a $3,000 award to put toward an internship abroad.
Points Awarded: 23
Net Cost: $27,417
Program Cost: Full time tuition, plus the college’s comprehensive fee, which was not listed online
Founded in 1911, Connecticut College is a private liberal arts college with 1,865 undergraduate students, a 9:1 student-faculty ratio and 56 majors, minors and certificates. Global Focus at Conn manages the college’s study away programs and college-approved external programs, which send more than half of its students overseas annually.
According to the school’s website, Connecticut has received the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world’s largest professional international education association. With 11 language programs, this small college offers numerous opportunities for students looking to learn a language while studying in its corresponding country. Other programs Conn governs include: the competitive Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) scholars program; language or international club trips, and international internships. Conn provides the opportunity to travel abroad or domestic to every student by funding $3,000 toward an internship or summer research project. Sophomores at Conn are expected to begin planning their expeditions. The easily navigable Study Away website offers helpful timelines and resources to get them on their way. The programs’ academic focus is dynamic from country-to-country and year-to-year, but students are able to carry a regular course load while abroad, taking classes with Conn faculty or those of the host school.
7. Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut
Trinity College has its own Rome campus in addition to the nine university-facilitated study away programs.
Points Awarded: 23
Net Cost: $23,980
Program Cost: A varying Comprehensive Fee that includes tuition, plus additional expenses like airfare and meals
Founded in 1823, Trinity College is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college–the second oldest in the state–situated on an urban campus with 2,192 full-time undergraduates, a student-faculty ratio of 9:1 and 39 academic majors. The Office of Study Away facilitates international education initiatives and nine Trinity-administered semester study away program locations all over the world.
Before graduating, more than 60 percent of students at Trinity study abroad in Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Trinidad & Tobago, Vienna and more. The OSA also has affiliations and memberships with external abroad programs like the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). Program length options vary depending on the program model, but students have the option to go abroad for as few as three weeks in the summer or as much as a full academic year. The college-directed semester and year-long programs include a core course and electives, as well as an internship, independent study or community service project, led and taught by a combination of Trinity faculty and host university professors. Trinity has its very own Rome Campus, established in 1970, that welcomes about 60 participants each fall, spring and summer session for academic excursions, art courses, field seminars, internships and more. Those students new to the idea of study abroad have the help of veteran abroad students at the college through the Global Ambassador Program for assistance through the pre-departure study away process.
6. Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont
Middlebury College’s Schools Abroad program sends students to just under 40 different locations in 17 countries around the world for internships abroad and class credit.
Points Awarded: 24
Net Cost: $20,197
Program Cost: Starting around $21,800 (including tuition and Middlebury’s fee)
Founded in 1800 by Congregationalists, Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college that offers graduate and specialized programs operating around the world. It has 2,450 undergraduates and a 9:1 student-faculty ratio. According to the college, more than half of the junior class at Middlebury studies abroad annually in more than 40 countries.
Middlebury’s C.V. Starr Schools Abroad program consists of more than 40 different universities in the UK, Jordan, Spain, Argentina, Russia, Brazil, Israel and more for one semester or a full year. Students participating at these schools take courses in a variety of subjects, complete internships, volunteer and live with a local family or host students. Middlebury’s most affordable study abroad program is through a school based in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s economic and political capital, but the other Schools Abroad excursions cost a bit more than a traditional semester. Middlebury students also have access externally-sponsored programs like exchanges with the University of East Anglia and the University of Nottingham in England, a program with Lincoln College at Oxford University and the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. Students earn class credit through most of the college’s semester programs, but internships, volunteering opportunities, jobs and internships for credit are available.
5. St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota
At St. Olaf College, those who apply to an international off-campus program are automatically considered for scholarships to study abroad.
Points Awarded: 25
Net Cost: $26,183
Program Cost: Starting around $2,000 (international)
Founded in 1874, St. Olaf College is a four-year, private liberal arts college of the Lutheran Church with a beautiful 300-acre campus, an enrollment of 3,040 and a freshman-to-sophomore retention rate at 92 percent. Through International and Off-Campus Studies, St. Olaf provides numerous great study abroad programs that integrate academic and experiential learning, including Global Semester trips where students are traveling to multiple countries during one semester.
Of the 775 graduating seniors in 2016, 71.5 percent participated in one international off-campus study program while at St. Olaf without being required to study abroad prior to graduation. Students can take a single art course in San Salvador during an interim semester, or spend as much as a full year abroad in countries like Argentina, Egypt, Hungary, Sweden, Japan, Chile and more; you can even stay in North America while studying in a different state if you’re not ready to travel overseas. Just about all fields of study are available abroad and through the college’s domestic off-campus studies programs. Students in these off-campus programs can retain the financial aid that they would receive on campus while abroad, with the exception of student work. Plus, every student who applies and confirms international program participation will be automatically considered for a scholarship worth $500-$5,000+. Some programs, like HECUA’s trip to Ecuador combines an internship with the opportunity to earn some class credit.
4. University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Points Awarded: 25
Net Cost: $14,693
Program Cost: Starting around $3,400 (faculty-led)
Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas is a public, co-educational, land-grant and space-grant research university with 10 colleges and schools, 210 academic programs and 27,000 students representing all 50 states and more than 120 countries. Students looking to study abroad have a plethora of options at U of A: university administered research; internships; independent study; exchange; faculty-led and external programs, as well as the U of A Rome Center.
The U of A Rome Center is housed in the historic Palazzo Taverna, minutes from the Vatican, Pantheon and other cultural sites. Students can spend two weeks to a full semester, living close to the school, traveling the region and participating in a varied curriculum in U of A core classes, Italian culture, language, art and history. Aside from Rome, students can enroll in or participate in a foreign exchange program with U of A’s partnership universities around the world. University faculty lead high-quality, short-term study abroad programs during intersessions and summer terms during which students can earn three academic credits in two weeks, or six credits in four weeks, in most cases. These programs go to China, Greece, Italy, Belize, Mozambique, Peru and more. With individual guidance from each student’s academic department, U of A students can participate in international internships, research projects and independent study programs. In case these great study abroad programs are above your budget, U of A funds a whopping 13 different scholarships for study abroad.
3. West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia
West Virginia University is among the cheapest colleges with one of the best study abroad programs, most of which are hosted by the university.
Points Awarded: 25
Net Cost: $10,405
Program Cost: Starting around $1,500
Founded in 1867, West Virginia University is a public, land-grant university with the highest level of research activity as described by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The WVU System reaches across the state with 518 buildings on 15,880 acres. A total of 31,287 total students come from 107 nations and every U.S. state, including D.C.
Just under 1,000 students at WVU traveled to another country for study abroad courses during the 2014-15 academic year. The university helps cover the cost of study abroad by accepting most loans, grants and scholarships, including a few program-specific, university-funded scholarships. The program types available are foreign exchanges, short-term and faculty-led trips, the ISEP consortium and affiliate programs through third-party companies. The international service learning trips are faculty-led, worth up to 12 academic credits, as short as 10 days during spring break and as long as one semester. Three adventure trips to Chile, Fiji and New Zealand are currently available, each of which is worth six credits. Students have the opportunity to practice outdoor living and test their leadership skills while learning about subjects like sustainable tourism.
2. Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Georgetown University hosts some of the most extensive study abroad offerings and sponsors nine different scholarships to study abroad.
Points Awarded: 27
Net Cost: $26,749
Program Cost: Starting around $5,500
Established in 1789, Georgetown University is a leading private research university and the country’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. In 2015, 7,562 students were enrolled at seven of the schools within the university, which consists of a main and a medical campus covering 104 acres of the nation’s capital. The Office of Global Education oversees seven different types of university-managed study abroad programs and those from affiliates: service learning courses, nursing, language, business and area studies programs, direct matriculation through partnerships and affiliates, GU faculty-led summer study abroad programs and the university-owned Villa le Balze living and learning community in Fiesole, Italy.
GU has another satellite campus abroad in Doha, Qatar, where students are able to take GPA-factored courses alongside degree-seeking students. Whether you want to spend three weeks in Italy or a full calendar year in Australia, GU’s options are expansive and made affordable with nine available university-sponsored scholarships for study abroad. The Going Global website, available from the GU Career Services Office, lists available internships, worldwide job openings and more while individual schools and majors offer their own non-credit internships abroad. The service learning programs are multifaceted and sometimes include an extra certification like the Certificate in Community Engagement in the Arts and Sciences at Stellenbosch University (CIEE) program.
1. University of Washington in Seattle, Washington
The second cheapest college with one of the top study abroad programs on this list, the University of Washington offers internships, classes, jobs and more across the globe.
Points Awarded: 28
Net Cost: $9,744
Program Cost: Starting as low as $775, including airfare
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is a flagship public research university with multiple campuses and 579 degree options, educating more than 56,000 total students annually and offering 1,800 undergraduate courses each quarter. UW Study Abroad manages the school’s international partnerships for exchange student programs and internal partnerships with various UW academic programs to enable more students to take classes abroad.
Using UW’s course equivalency database, students can easily find what study abroad courses will help satisfy their academic goals and needs. Study abroad program models here include university exchanges, faculty-led programs, three to four-week exploration seminars worth five UW resident credits, IE3 Global Internships operated through the Oregon University System, independent learning for academic credit and affiliate programs. The faculty-led programs allow students to take courses at varying lengths and participate in field studies on specific academic themes for six to 15 credits depending on the term. These programs have destinations like Denmark, Morocco, the Czech Republic and more. Students can also apply for employment as a TA on UW’s programs. Five different UW-financed scholarships for studying abroad are available in addition to external, regional and graduate scholarships for studying overseas. Through independent learning, graduate and advanced undergraduate students seeking credit for international activities can participate in independent research, internships, practicums, clinical electives or government/department-sponsored fellowship programs. One of the most affordable study abroad programs is the Foster School Kakehashi Project in Japan. This seven-day spring break study tour is worth one credit for undergraduates in the business school.
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