Some study abroad programs, especially short-term ones (e.g., summer and winter programs) are designed specifically for North American study abroad students. They may be taught by faculty from U.S. universities taking a group of students overseas. This type of program, known as an “island program,” attempts to replicate the U.S. classroom in a foreign setting, taking advantage of the site to reinforce the content of the class.
Direct Enrollment Programs
Alternatively, a “direct enrollment” program places study abroad students in the foreign classroom with degree-seeking students from the host country, taught by host-country faculty. Study abroad students do the same academic work as their host-country counterparts. Students are integrated in local housing with host country and other international students.
Some study abroad programs offer a blend of both program models. For example, all study abroad students might be required to take one or two classes offered by the program (e.g., “British Cultural History”), often taught by local faculty who have experience working with American students. Then students have the option of taking some direct-enrollment classes at a local university, or undertaking an internship. This type of program is known as a “hybrid.”
Exchange programs are based on this simple mechanism: exchange students pay tuition and fees to their home university, and then study at a partner university abroad without paying tuition and fees there. Exchange programs offer excellent value, but because of their very nature there are limited placements available since the number of students “swapped” need to balance. Because exchange programs are a direct enrollment experience with limited on-site support, they are most appropriate for mature, independent, upper-level undergraduates.
Alternative Overseas Experiences
Many opportunities exist for international experience and cultural learning beyond the classroom. These are commonly grouped under the label ‘WIVA’ programs - Work, Intern, and Volunteer Abroad. While traditional study abroad programs involve earning academic credit abroad, WIVA programs may or may not provide academic credit. Both traditional and WIVA programs, however, have the potential for the same valuable benefits, including cultural immersion, personal development and transformation, language development, skills acquisition, and many more. Information and resource lists to help you begin your search are linked below: