The decision to embark on a study abroad program can bring on a range of emotions from excitement to full-on fear.
While most students feel happy to start a new adventure and look forward to the experiences that will follow, there are many stages of the study abroad as a process that needs to be sorted out before you get to that point.
As a study abroad advisor, one of the questions I help students navigate daily is a simple one: How do I choose a Study Abroad Program? Often followed up with, What is a Study Abroad Program?. This is where I begin to explain the differences at a basic level.
There are three popular types of study abroad programs:
Institutionalized Education Study Abroad programs
Independent Organized Study Abroad programs
Self-appointed Study Abroad programs
Understanding The Differences
As you begin thinking through what your deciding factors will be for choosing a mode of study abroad, consider the most popular factors to date:
Opportunity to Interact with and Meet New People
Study Abroad Grants, Scholarship, and Financial Aid
Career Development opportunities
Accessibility to course credits
Deciding how a study abroad experience fits your goals
Option #1 – Institutionalized Education Study Abroad Programs
Institutionalized Educational Study Abroad Programs, are programs that are completed directly through a high school, college, or university where a student is currently enrolled. These programs are typically very well-established and well funded from endowments or from fundraising efforts.
In my opinion, however, these types of study abroad programs, although a great option for an all-inclusive approach mixed with great tradition, is the most restrictive for personal growth and expanding your network.
Some colleges and universities with world-renowned study abroad programs and international student opportunities are Syracuse University, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Evansville, Leiden University, and The University of Oslo.
Option #2 – Independent Organized Study Abroad Programs
Surprisingly, you’ll find that more students know about these than the study abroad programs offered by their schools. Independent Organized Study Abroad programs are those which are for-profit but independent of an educational institution. Although many of them have partnered globally with colleges and universities to ensure students can often receive degree credits and recognition, they are independently owned and are usually run from the private market. Some well-known names in this space include The American Institute of Foreign Studies (AIFS), International Studies Abroad (ISA), and CEA Study Abroad.
Option # 3 – Self-appointed Study Abroad Programs
Self-appointed Study Abroad programs are those that are undertaken completely on one’s own accord. Generally speaking, these are full degree programs at a foreign university. As an international student (myself included at one point) you would likely complete these programs at the graduate or postgraduate level (Master’s or Ph.D.). However, to escape annual tuition increases, now at $70,000 per year for some colleges, there has been a growing movement of American students opting to study abroad in Europe and Canada, taking advantage of shorter and much more affordable undergraduate programs, with the opportunity to gain foreign work experience.
Ready for MORE?
Interested in learning more about these three program types and how to figure out which one is right for you? Download my FREE eGuide + Bonus Quiz.
Jammed packed with the latest details on how students are choosing a program to create a memorable study abroad experience, you’ll have a chance to weigh the pros and cons of each and determine your ideal route.
See you on the next post! -K.
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.