Ever wonder what it would be like to travel the world? For many students, college is an ideal time to visit a new land, immerse yourself in a new culture and maybe even learn a new language.
Studying abroad can help you develop a new and valuable global perspective, but unfortunately, many students who start out with international intentions never actually take their trip. They can’t afford it, or can’t fit it into their schedule, or perhaps they just never get the information they need to pursue a study abroad experience. If you know that studying abroad is important to you, your college choice matters. Some schools provide more support for students who want to study abroad than others, in the way of financial aid opportunities or more plentiful program options. Some colleges go a step farther and require all students to have some sort of international experience.
At each of the top 15 schools for studying abroad, more than two-thirds of the student population takes a trip overseas. Because study abroad experiences are so prevalent, these colleges offer a wealth of opportunities and options in various countries across the globe, and the support students need to plan a successful trip.
1. Goucher College
Topping the list of the best 15 schools for studying abroad is a small, private liberal arts college where 100 percent of the student population completes a study abroad experience. At Goucher College in Baltimore, gaining an “international perspective” is considered integral to every career path – and every student’s future success. To help students cultivate that perspective, the institution adopted a mandatory study abroad requirement for all undergraduate students. Most students complete this requirement during their junior year of study, though some study abroad opportunities are available to freshmen.
Goucher College offers plenty of options. Students can spend a year abroad, or a semester, or they can opt for an intensive course abroad (ICA) that packs the whole cross-cultural experience into very busy three weeks. Students have their pick of 60 study abroad programs, such as those focused on languages, the arts and environmental conservation. International internships are also offered. Goucher College sends students to 32 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.
In addition to ranking highly on U.S. News & World Report’s list of schools with the most students studying abroad, Goucher College has earned additional recognition from U.S. News and other highly respected publications. U.S. News ranks the institution tied for sixth place among the Most Innovative Schools, tied for 79th among the Best Colleges for Veterans and tied for 112th among National Liberal Arts Colleges. Goucher College has also earned praise – and high rankings – from publications like The Princeton Review and the annual Fiske Guide to Colleges. Part of what makes Goucher College’s study abroad program such a success is careful planning. Students learn about the opportunities in general during their Study Abroad 101 Session and explore information about specific programs and travel opportunities during a Study Abroad 102 Session.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Enrollment: 1,471 students
Study Abroad Rate: 100 percent
2. Soka University of America
Soka University of America, a small private school with a total undergraduate enrollment of just a few hundred students, is another institution where a study abroad opportunity is a graduation requirement. That’s because the university’s mission is to train its students to be true “global citizens” – and how better to accomplish that goal than to send students out into the world?
All students at Soka University of America spend a semester abroad during their junior year.
The school offers study abroad programs in Argentina, Chile, China, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Spain and Taiwan. At Soka University of America, your study abroad options are governed by the language – Chinese, French, Japanese or Spanish – you choose to study. After studying the language in the classroom, students have the opportunity to truly become fluent by immersing themselves in the language – and the culture – during their semester overseas.
One benefit of choosing Soka University of America for your studies is that you won’t have to worry about coming up with the money for a study abroad experience. The cost of your international education is built into your tuition price. Speaking of price, Soka University earned the distinction of being ranked fourth in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Value Schools. Its small class sizes and unique curriculum are among the factors that landed the school this recognition as well as a place on the ranking of the best national liberal arts colleges.
Location: Aliso Viejo, CA
Enrollment: 412 students
Study Abroad Rate: 100 percent
3. Arcadia University
If you want plenty of academic options in your study abroad experience, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Arcadia University. The scenic private school located just miles from Philadelphia offers more than 130 study abroad programs in subjects ranging from architecture to English literature and art to biology. Arcadia’s College of Global Studies offers its study abroad programs to students from colleges and universities across the U.S., in addition to Arcadia undergraduates.
Students can choose to travel to 14 countries: Australia, Chile, Cuba, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and Wales. Multi-country programs are also offered, in case you can’t decide on just one nation to explore during your studies. Arcadia’s programs emphasize learning outside the classroom, to help you develop and enrich your life intellectually through personal development, cultural experience, authentic community engagement, contextualized academic study, and the learning of life skills such as leadership, empathy, independence, critical thinking, problem solving, cultural awareness, and communications skills.
To date, more than 65,000 students from colleges and universities all over the U.S. have studied abroad through The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University – starting with a group of just 17 students who, in 1948, took a boat to Europe to study the post-World War II economy.
While Arcadia University doesn’t require all students to study abroad, the institution works to make the experience accessible to every student interested in international studies. The school presents tips to make the most of a study abroad experience before embarking on the trip, step-by-step application help and a transparent breakdown of what’s included in the cost of a study abroad experience. Around 70 percent of students who study abroad through The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University receive some sort of scholarship – in some cases, for as much as $2,500 for one semester.
Location: Glenside, PA
Enrollment: 2,594 students
Study Abroad Rate: 87 percent
4. Centre College
At Centre College, it’s not only the fact that 85 percent of the undergraduate student population studies abroad that makes the school’s international program so remarkable. There’s also the fact that many students choose to study abroad more than once – a feat made easier by the range of international study options available to Centre College students. The private institution believes strongly that all students interested in a study abroad experience should have the chance to live that dream. Advisors work to help even students those majoring in technical subjects like computer science, biology and mathematics arrange their course schedule to allow for a trek overseas – without falling behind on their graduation requirements.
For most students, it’s possible to study abroad during any term of their sophomore, junior or senior year of school and still graduate on time. Centre College offers semester-long study abroad opportunities in China, England, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Spain.
Students can also opt for shorter international study opportunities. Summer study abroad sessions typically last for a few weeks and may center on themes like primate behavior, collective cultural memory through art and the history of the Holocaust. A few of the summer study abroad opportunities offered include programs in Barbados, Costa Rica, France, Merida (Mexico) and a program that featured travels through Germany, Prague and finally Poland. International internships and specialized CentreTerm courses featuring trips overseas are also available. For students who want to travel within the country, the school offers Study Away programs based in Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
Centre College is another school that makes the cost of a trip abroad both transparent and affordable. “The cost of studying abroad is virtually the same as studying in Danville,” the school reported, with students receiving the same scholarships, grants and loans during their semester abroad as they would at the school’s campus in Kentucky. The only additional costs students need to worry about are the airfare to reach their destination and a one-time $375 surcharge. Some students qualify for additional scholarships or Senior Subsidies to help offset these expenses.
Location: Danville, KY
Enrollment: 1,387 students
Study Abroad Rate: 85 percent
5. Goshen College
Where in the world do you want to go? If your study abroad dreams include experiencing life – and serving local residents – in a developing nation like Cambodia, Peru or Tanzania, then the unique international opportunities at Goshen College might be the perfect fit for you.
This private urban college doesn’t require every student to take a trip overseas. It does, however, have a mandatory intercultural study requirement intended to cultivate “global citizenship,” one of Goshen College’s core values. Students can meet this graduation requirement through taking the right combination of on-campus alternative courses, but more than 80 percent choose to truly immerse themselves in another culture by studying abroad.
The study abroad program offered through Goshen College is known as the international Study-Service Term, or SST. Over a 13-week period, students will stay with two different host families to get a taste of both rural and urban life in the nation. In addition to experiencing the culture firsthand, students will complete extensive studies in the language, history, literature, environment and art of the country they are visiting. Besides traditional languages like French and Spanish, students can also choose SST experiences that feature a focus on American Sign Language (ASL). All students complete a volunteer service project to benefit local causes during the second half of their trip abroad, which means the experience really is a win-win situation. Since 1968, Goshen College’s study abroad program has sent more than 7,700 students overseas to two dozen nations.
Location: Goshen, IN
Enrollment: 774 students
Study Abroad Rate: 83 percent
6. Carleton College
At Carleton College, study abroad experiences are arranged through the Office of Off-Campus Studies. Students can choose from a variety of faculty-led study abroad programs offered in various subjects and at different times of year. Recent program options have included studying ecology in Australia, English literature in London, sustainable energy in India and cinema in Chile. Students can also take educational travels to destinations across the United States, ranging from art in New York City to political science in Washington, D.C., and from wilderness studies at the Grand Canyon to history and the arts in California.
To provide students with the widest array of international study options, the private college – which dates back to 1866 – also encourages and facilitates study abroad opportunities through other organizations. In total, it’s not unusual for more than 70 percent of a single graduating class at Carleton College to have studied abroad, and in many majors between 70 and 100 percent of students take an educational trip overseas. In 2016, Carleton College was awarded a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a three-year Global Engagement Initiative project.
To make understanding the cost of a study abroad experience easy, Carleton College charges a comprehensive fee that includes the price of tuition, room and board. Students only have to pay for the travel to the destination itself, their course materials and their personal expenses not related to the academic program. The school also offers numerous scholarship and travel grant opportunities for which students are encouraged to apply.
In addition to excelling at making study abroad opportunities accessible to all students, Carleton College has a reputation for excellence elsewhere. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school number-one among the best undergraduate teaching colleges, seventh among the best colleges for veterans, eighth in the country among national liberal arts colleges and 29th on the list of Best Value Schools.
Location: Northfield, MN
Enrollment: 2,057 students
Study Abroad Rate: 78 percent
7. Pitzer College
At Pitzer College, you can study in almost any country you can think of. In addition to the seven Pitzer Programs available, students can choose from five Direct Enroll programs and more than 22 Bilateral International Exchanges. The school is also a member of the International Student Exchange Program, a study abroad network, through which it offers 20 more approved programs. Students can also get a taste of life elsewhere in America through Domestic Exchange programs in Arizona, California, Georgia, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Pitzer Programs include interdisciplinary core courses, intensive language studies, community learning and service opportunities, independent study opportunities and the experience of staying with one (or more!) host families during the semester-long trip. Individual study abroad groups are generally limited to small numbers of participants, often between 12 and 20 students.
Students attending Pitzer College don’t have to worry that costs will stand in the way of traveling overseas, because “the cost for a semester of study abroad is similar to the cost of a semester on campus.” They are able to use the same financial aid they received for on-campus studies toward their study abroad experience. Students at Pitzer College pay a uniform, comprehensive study abroad price that covers tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip airfare and travel insurance.
Location: Claremont, CA
Enrollment: 1,076 students
Study Abroad Rate: 78 percent
8. Susquehanna University
Want to take an educational trip overseas, but not sure you’re ready for an entire semester abroad? Would you prefer to intern or volunteer rather than just “study”? Or perhaps you want to design your own program that will allow you to research the global issues that most interest you. At Susquehanna University, all of these options become yours.
U.S. News & World Report lists Susquehanna University as having 78 percent of its 2014 graduating class take part in a study abroad experience. However, the school’s cross-cultural Global Opportunities (GO) requirement means that every student will study away – some, across the United States, but most, across the world. By immersing themselves in new cultures, students develop a level of cultural competency – not to mention, a level of self-awareness – which they can only achieve through firsthand experience. Because Susquehanna University makes study away a graduation requirement, no barriers are permitted to stand in the way of students making their international travel dreams a reality.
In Susquehanna University’s GO Long program, students spend a semester studying in Australia, China, Japan, London, Liverpool or The Gambia. They can also choose from 50 possible approved, for-credit programs not offered through Susquehanna.
If a semester is too long for you to be away from home – or if your course schedule makes it difficult to spend a term in another country and still graduate on time – you can choose to GO Short instead. These two- to six-week intensive study abroad programs are scheduled during semester breaks and include opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in North America.
There’s also the GO Your Own Way option. This path allows students to fulfill the study away requirement through volunteer- or service-oriented international programs or cross-cultural internship opportunities, or to develop their own self-designed study abroad programs.
Location: Selinsgrove, PA
Enrollment: 2,084 students
Study Abroad Rate: 78 percent
9. Lee University
If your ideal school is one that will allow you plenty of opportunity to travel plus provide an education with a Christian worldview, consider Lee University. The private institution is another college where students are required to gain some form of international experience through the Global Perspectives program. While U.S. News & World Report stated that just over three-quarters of the Lee University class of 2014 completed a study abroad experience, the remaining students took part in nontraditional educational travel opportunities, or fulfilled the requirement through past cross-cultural travels as part of the military or missions groups.
If you want to spend an entire semester abroad, Lee University offers its flagship study abroad experience in the United Kingdom every spring. Over the course of 10 weeks, students will leave their Cambridge headquarters to visit sites across the U.K., while studying the humanities and cross-cultural topics. If you’d rather take a shorter trip overseas, you can choose from more than 30 shorter trips – taking place across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America – directed by Lee University faculty and offered during semester breaks.
Some students develop their own study abroad experience through the individually arranged studies option. Others take part in a collaborative study abroad offered by other organizations, like the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ Best Semester Programs or Japanese Studies at Tokyo Christian University or Yamagata University.
Christianity is more than just an affiliation at Lee University. All students must complete an 18-credit core of coursework in religion and religious studies. By the time they graduate, all Lee University students will have taken enough religion courses to earn a minor in the subject. The Christian affiliation is evident in the school’s mission, as well as its cross-cultural requirement. To help students choose the right study abroad program for them, the school hosts its Global World’s Fair event annually, highlighting the different study abroad options and the trips available.
Location: Cleveland, TN
Enrollment: 4,575 students
Study Abroad Rate: 76 percent
10. Calvin College
Calvin College is another Christian school where off-campus education is a big deal. The liberal arts school, which dates back to 1876, operates on a schedule known as 4-1-4. Students complete a full four-month semester in the fall and the spring and additional studies during a one-month interim term in between. This schedule offers students plenty of options when it comes to getting an international education. Calvin College students can choose to study abroad for one of the four-month semesters or during their interim term – and three-quarters of students do take a trip overseas.
For students who want to spend a whole semester abroad, the school offers 11 faculty-led off-campus programs. Possible destinations include Britain, China, France, Ghana, the Honduras (for either Justice Studies or Spanish Studies), Hungary, Peru and Spain. A semester-long internship-based trip to Washington, D.C. is also offered. Students in their sophomore year or above can pursue a semester abroad.
Interim study abroad experiences are much shorter than semester-long ones, lasting about three weeks. However, there are also a lot more interim opportunities for students to choose from. Every year, the school offers 25 to 30 faculty-led trips to locations like: Belgium, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and West Africa. The subjects of these overseas studies can vary significantly, from vaccine development to sailing and from a foreign language to ancient art and history. Some interim programs focus on domestic travel to regions of the United States like Montana, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. In addition to the traditional interim period, Calvin College also offers interim study abroad opportunities over the summer.
One factor that sets the school apart is its transparency with regards to affording a trip overseas. The school breaks down how cost is calculated and what’s included in the price of both semester and interim study abroad opportunities. It also distinguishes between lower cost and higher cost programs, so students know what their options are from the start. Depending on where they choose to go, Calvin College students may be able to study abroad for as little as $100 more than what they would already be paying for their studies on campus.
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Study Abroad Rate: 75 percent
11. Kalamazoo College
When it comes to study abroad options, Kalamazoo College is all about options. The school’s Center for International Programs regularly sends students to 35 different destinations in nearly two dozen nations scattered across six continents. With short-term, long-term and extended term options, plus domestic study away experiences, students have a wealth of cross-cultural study opportunities to choose from.
Some of the destinations Kalamazoo College students have the opportunity to visit include: Australia, Botswana, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Senegal, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad and the United Kingdom. Domestic study away options include opportunities in New York City; Chicago; Tuscan, Arizona; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
For more than half a century, Kalamazoo College has sent students on study abroad trips across the globe to help them learn more about themselves and the world around them. With that rich history of supporting and encouraging international educational opportunities, it’s no wonder that the school’s study abroad programs have earned recognition from Institute of International Education and U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News has also rated the institution 66th among all national liberal arts colleges in America.
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Enrollment: 1,461 students
Study Abroad Rate: 75 percent
12. St. Lawrence University
St. Lawrence University happens to be the oldest co-educational in the state of New York, but that’s just one of many things that make the school special. It also started one of the earliest first-year college student programs in the nation. From 1974 to 2014 – a span of 40 years – St. Lawrence University’s semester abroad in Kenya opportunity was one of the longest running programs to send students to study abroad in Africa, Inside Higher Ed and North Country Public Radio reported.
Today, the Patti-McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies supports 25 off-campus programs that take students to 19 different nations. Opportunities through St. Lawrence University include programs in Canada, France, Kenya, London, Senegal and Spain as well as domestic experiences in the Adirondacks, New York City and Boston. Most of these programs include foreign language studies and homestay accommodations. Partner programs include options to travel to: Australia, Austria, China, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, India, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Thailand and Trinidad.
While summer and other study abroad programs are available, more than half of the students at St. Lawrence University travel overseas for at least one full semester. Rather than paying a study abroad fee, students pay the same tuition and fees they normally would during their international study experience. They are, however, responsible for additional travel expenses like airfare. Besides excelling in offering its students a wide array of study abroad opportunities, St. Lawrence University earned a place on U.S. News & World Report’s lists of the Best Colleges for Veterans and National Liberal Arts Colleges.
Location: Canton, NY
Enrollment: 2,406 students
Study Abroad Rate: 75 percent
13. Queens University of Charlotte
At Queens University of Charlotte, study abroad experiences are managed through the John Belk International Program. Students can choose from more than 175 different programs that run in 50 different countries. International internship opportunities are also available. Queens University of Charlotte makes study abroad experiences affordable, because “almost all the costs are covered in your tuition” and “the Belk Program covers the major expenses for most program options.” U.S. News & World Report ranked Queens University of Charlotte 18th among the Best Colleges for Veterans and 20th among the best Regional Universities in the nation.
For a brief trip, students can choose a short-term faculty-led program as they complete their junior year of studies. These programs typically last 10 to 14 days and include potential destinations like: Austria, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Micronesia, Peru, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom and Vietnam.
If you would rather spend more time overseas, a semester program would be a good choice for you. Through Queens University of Charlotte’s membership in the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), students can spend a semester abroad in their choice of more than three dozen nations, including: Botswana, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Iceland, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan. The university also has partnerships with schools in Cyprus, France, London, Northern Ireland and Scotland. If learning a foreign language through cultural immersion is your goal, you can choose from Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Enrollment: 1,665 students
Study Abroad Rate: 78 percent
14. Elon University
The study abroad program at the largest school on the list, Elon University, earned a number-one ranking from the Institute of International Education as well as recognition from U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News also ranked the university as the most innovative school in America as well as tied for first place among the Best Colleges for Veterans and Regional Universities. Despite having far more students than most other programs on the list – and upwards of 10 times more students than the smallest schools – the private institution still sent 72 percent of its 2014 graduates overseas.
Study abroad programs at Elon University come in all forms. Close to 100 semester-long programs send students to faraway destinations across Africa, Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe and South America, as well as to domestic travel locations within the United States.
Short-term programs are also offered at Elon University. During winter term, students might spend three to four weeks overseas. Summer study abroad programs cover three to six weeks. If you want to travel but can’t be away from home for quite that long, you can take a Semester Travel-Embedded course at the school’s North Carolina campus and complete a brief trip abroad during a semester break. Students can also take part in a Summer Affiliate program or create their own experience based around an internship or independent research project through the Independent Elon Program Abroad (IEPA).
Location: Elon, NC
Enrollment: 5,782 students
Study Abroad Rate: 72 percent
15. Eastern Mennonite University
Completing the top 15 study abroad schools in America is Eastern Mennonite University, a private Christian liberal arts school that has a religious affiliation with the Mennonite Church. The school is known for small class sizes, with fewer than 20 students in the majority of its classes and a faculty to student ratio of just 10:1. Eastern Mennonite University is also known for its study abroad opportunities. The school considers its cross-cultural program to be a cornerstone of undergraduate education and requires all students to participate in a cross-cultural study experience of some kind.
Eastern Mennonite University students can fulfill their cross-cultural requirement through a semester abroad, a three- to six-week summer abroad program or an internship in Washington, D.C. Though the school offers a few different domestic travel options, more than two-thirds of 2014 graduates opted to study abroad, often in far-off places like the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Middle East. For the spiritual students who choose Eastern Mennonite University, the cross cultural program is “more than study abroad” – it’s a major influence on their “faith journey” and values as well as their understanding of the larger world around them.
In recent years, Eastern Mennonite University has sent students to destinations like: Bulgaria, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Galápagos Islands, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Quebec, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, Vietnam, and Zambia. Students can also choose from unique alternative cross-cultural programs, many of which include a service component.
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
Enrollment: 1,227 students
Study Abroad Rate: 68 percent
Editor’s Note: A school with a rich international study program, like the top 15 study abroad institutions in the nation, can take you virtually anywhere you want to go. However, students should consider all aspects of their education – not just the opportunities for international travel – when they choose a college. This list should be considered a guide to help students with their college choice process and direct their research into the schools that most interest them. The information in this article came from U.S. News & World Report and the official websites of each featured college. Graduate students can also benefit from learning about study abroad opportunities in master’s degree programs, while high school students may benefit from studying abroad before college. Because studying abroad is a big decision, there are a number of things students should seeking a bachelor’s degree should know before studying abroad.