The number of students who choose to study abroad has been on the rise, with more than 350,000 students studying abroad in 2018-19, according to Open Doors data. Most undergrads do a study abroad program in their junior year, but these days you can find programs that are a good fit no matter where you are in your undergraduate experience. If you’re considering study abroad, it’s best to start your planning early; that way you can find the best program for your needs and begin to budget for any extra expenses.
Key study abroad statistics
- In 2018-19, 347,099 students participated in study abroad. That was up 2.3 percent from the previous year.
- More than 42 percent of study abroad students are in their junior year, while 27 percent are in their senior year.
- Around two-thirds of study abroad students are women.
- Many study abroad programs are based on your usual tuition costs, but there may be several thousands of dollars in expenses added on top.
Average cost of studying abroad
How much a study abroad program costs depends on a wide range of factors, from what the baseline education costs are in a particular country to what the study abroad program itself includes. The University of Louisville estimates that a semester-long study abroad program averages around $7,000 to $15,000.
Remember, the cost of studying abroad doesn’t just include tuition; you’ll also need to factor in flights, meals, health insurance and more. Below is a sampling of estimated fees from a variety of programs.
|University of Washington: Madrid||University of Iowa: Florence||Pace University: Costa Rica||Syracuse University: Wroclaw|
|Study abroad fee||$450||$1,110||$100||$5,875|
Cost of study abroad by region/country
According to Open Doors, the most popular destinations for study abroad are Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. However, some of these destinations are also among the most expensive. Research from APRIL International finds that Australia is the most expensive country to study in based on annual university costs and annual cost of living, while the United Kingdom and France are not far behind.
|Country||Estimated annual cost (tuition and cost of living)|
Source: APRIL International
Cost of study abroad by program/agency
There’s a thriving ecosystem of companies that organize study abroad opportunities for students. Many of these are nonprofits that partner with a broad range of universities and colleges to offer for-credit courses. They are often the link between an American university and an international university, and they frequently augment the coursework with excursions and events.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the most popular organizations and how they stack up.
|Organization||Number of countries||Estimated program costs for one semester in London, England||Included in cost|
|IES Abroad||17||$19,500||Tuition, housing, insurance, personal advising, on-site support|
|CIEE||26||$18,750||Tuition, housing, field trips, insurance, on-site support|
|CIS Abroad||14||$21,490||Tuition, housing, insurance, field trips, on-site support, academic advising|
|AIFS||21||$17,495||Tuition, housing, field trips, on-site support, alumni network|
|ISA||28||$22,450||Tuition, housing, field trips, personal advising, on-site support, supplemental health insurance|
|USAC||26||$17,317||Tuition, housing, field trips, personal advising, on-site support, supplemental health insurance, scholarship advising|
How to pay for study abroad
If you’re considering study abroad, make budgeting a part of your planning process from the very beginning. Studying abroad is expensive, but it is also entirely doable if you keep the numbers on track from the get-go. Be realistic about what your costs will be in a given location and know the ins and outs of what the different program options include. And don’t forget to squirrel away a bit of cash for souvenirs.
The good news is that much of your existing financial aid can be used for study abroad costs. You may be able to use:
In addition to your existing aid, there are many scholarships targeted specifically at students studying abroad, which you can uncover using a scholarship search engine. Third-party companies that facilitate study abroad programs also often have their own scholarships.
Once you’re at your destination, look for any discounts that can defray your costs. For example, many major cities offer student discounts to museums and national landmarks.
What is study abroad?
Study abroad is a program that allows students to earn academic credit at an international college or university. Study abroad programs are offered through international partnerships between universities and are generally available to every student in good academic standing.
Students can choose to move abroad for an entire year, an academic semester or a few weeks. There are general study abroad programs, where students can take college courses as they would in their home country, and there are also major-specific programs where the sole purpose is for students to focus on their field of study.
What are the requirements to study abroad?
Study abroad requirements will vary depending on the school you attend and the program you choose. You’ll need to be in good academic standing, often with a GPA of at least 3.0, and you may need to take a language proficiency test.
Here’s what you may need to have on hand for the application:
- Photo ID (driver’s license or passport photo).
- Academic transcript
- Proof of secondary education, like a GED or high school diploma (if applying as a freshman).
- Program admission test results, like GRE results (if applying for a graduate program).
What country is best for studying abroad?
Ultimately, the best country to study abroad in depends on your personal interests, your field of study and what you’re looking to get out of your time abroad. For example, the United Kingdom may be the top pick for an English literature major, while Spain is an ideal location for a Spanish major.
Study abroad isn’t just an academic opportunity; it’s also a chance to experience different cultures and see new parts of the world. Consider the destinations you’ve always wanted to see and where you might be able to travel while you’re abroad.