For students in search of an opportunity that bridges the gap between their current studies and future goals, studying abroad is often the natural next step. Between spending time in a foreign country, potentially learning a new language, boosting your global network with new friends, and just living life overseas, there’s not much more to be sold on.
Many resources online often use the term ‘study away’ to stand in for study abroad, BUT what does this mean?
Are they truly the same concept? In this post, we explore the differences between studying abroad and study away and how to decide which type of journey is best for you and your future goals.
The Main Difference Between Study Abroad and Study Away
I always tell the students that I advise this: ALL Study Abroad Programs are considered ‘study away‘ programs. However, NOT ALL study away programs are study abroad programs.
Study abroad in its most basic definition is undertaking a route/pathway of study in a foreign country or country outside of the student’s birth. On the other hand, study away programs, a concept that has grown in popularity since the early 2000s, creates an experience for students to study in a different environment or experience a new culture, often inside of the same country where the student already resides.
Let’s keep it simple and take the United States for example. A massive landmass, with over 300 Million people and fifty states that are all different, with unique cultures, separate regional beliefs and traditions, and ways of life, yet all connected through certain aspects of a common country.
Many schools throughout the US build experiences for their students to study away across the country to gain skills, knowledge, and perspective without ever leaving the nation.
Despite the confusing overlap of terms, I think the idea of ‘study away’ is fantastic, particularly for Americans since we are, generally speaking, much more insular, far less well-traveled, and more likely to stereotype people and cultures based on what we hear and not what we know (Change My Mind!).
Australia is another country where the concept of ‘study away’, is quite popular.
Some colleges and universities based in the US have study away requirements that can be fulfilled by selecting the option to study away through their programming in another state or by studying abroad outside of the country.
Some programs also offer a mix of study away and study abroad so that students can have the opportunity to learn inside and outside of their country. Lastly, and most familiar, a large portion of colleges and universities in the US and worldwide offer mainstream study abroad opportunities.
Students in Study Away programs are enrolled in partner universities as a student of that school and are expected to abide by all of the school’s rules, even if they do not align with their home institution.
For traditional study abroad students, you are either enrolled as a part of a school connected program, or for students that pursue independent programs, you will not officially be “enrolled” in any one school, but may receive course credits from an academically accredited institution that partners with the program to provide it with credibility.
See the difference? Okay good!
Major Benefits of Study Abroad
Wide range of program options
A variety of locations offered
Faculty-Led or Independent (depending on preference)
Many programs are recognizable worldwide and look great on a resume
Exposure to new people and a new environment
Major Benefits of Study Away
Partner-School Effect: Gain exposure to a new school community that shares a similar mission as your current school
Affordable: Likely to be offered at a partner school that has similar pricing to your current institution.
Study Abroad vs. Study Away Overlapping
While we have established they are not exclusively interchangeable, some schools offer both study abroad and study away as a way to meet a variety of needs and goals of students.
For example, the University of Georgia at Athens offers a comprehensive StudyAway program that encompasses both traditional study abroad options in places like Oxford and Rome but also has StudyAway options in other parts of the US, particularly for certain majors including Hawaii, New York, and Washington DC. Click here to view more about that programming for an example.
Other Examples of Effective Study Away Programs
Which program do you think will work best for you, study abroad or study away? Have you applied for either type of program? If yes, LEAVE A COMMENT and tell me more about how you finally chose what you wanted to do.
Until next time,
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.