How Long Is Study Abroad?
How long is study abroad? If you are considering a study abroad program in college, you may be wondering exactly how long your study abroad program will take.
Studying abroad was my favorite experience in college. In fact, I wish could have studied abroad for longer!
One question you might have before studying abroad is how long it takes.
Fortunately, the length of study abroad programs varies depending on the program you choose. You can study abroad for as much or as little time as you’d like!
How Long Do Students Usually Study Abroad?
According to data from the U.S. Department of State, 38% of students who study abroad do so on a summer program, making it the most popular time to study abroad.
Studying abroad in the summer is a great idea because it does not interfere with your regular academic year at your home university and you can earn a few extra credits during the summer, lightening your course load for upcoming semesters.
Another popular option is studying abroad for one semester. This is what 32% of students do, and what I personally did in college. (I spent my spring semester of sophomore year studying abroad in Paris, France.)
I really enjoyed studying abroad for a semester, although the only downside I can think of is that I missed out on a lot during that semester I spent away from my home university. I had just joined a sorority the previous semester, so I missed out on a lot of social activities.
I wouldn’t say that I had FOMO (fear of missing out) since I was having such a blast on my semester abroad with the friends I met there, but it did impact my social life some upon returning to my home university since I’d missed out on a lot while I was away.
Less than 3% of students studied abroad for an entire academic year or calendar year, making this the least common option.
In fact, according to the State Department, 60% of students chose a program eight weeks or less in length, so shorter study abroads are the most popular. (My own study abroad was about sixteen weeks and it didn’t feel long enough, for what it’s worth!)
Can You Study Abroad For A Year?
Yes, you can study abroad for a full academic year or a full calendar year.
For American college students, this is not very common, with only 3% of students spending a year abroad.
However, this is a great option if you really want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture. You can also make more long-lasting connections while studying abroad for a year versus studying abroad on a shorter program.
I would have loved to study abroad for a full year if I had been able to! If this is an option that’s available to you, you should definitely take it if it’s something that interests you.
Is Studying Abroad One Semester?
Studying abroad can be for just one semester. This is what I did, and what all the other American college students at my exchange university were doing.
It is definitely the norm for American college students to study abroad for just one semester or less, whereas the study abroad students I met from other countries were almost all doing a full year abroad.
Most study abroad programs will allow you to study abroad for either the fall or spring semester.
However, in some countries, they do not follow a fall and spring semester schedule, so you may find the duration of your program is different than that of your home university. You might start later or finish earlier than you do in the United States.
Can You Study Abroad In The Summer?
Summer study abroad programs are the most common for American college students, with 38% of all who studied abroad taking part in one of these.
As I mentioned, the benefit of a summer study abroad is that you can take extra classes during the summer and potentially lighten your future courseload, or even graduate early.
Summer study abroad programs differ from traditional semester or year-long study abroad programs in that you will typically not have a real exchange experience at a foreign university. Your summer program might be led by professors from your home university who travel with you, or you will attend classes only with other American study abroad students at a foreign university.
This is why I preferred to study abroad during a semester in the regular academic year, because I wanted to attend a foreign university with both local students as well as other international and study abroad students.
However, it’s a matter of personal preference!
Some study abroad programs may also include traveling around to several different destinations, whereas with a traditional semester or year-long program, you will likely be studying in the same place for the whole time.
Other Short-Term Study Abroad Programs
With 60% of students studying abroad for eight weeks or less, there are plenty of short-term study abroad programs to choose from.
Personally, I enjoyed studying abroad for sixteen weeks, and I would have liked to stay for even longer! But I know this is not for everyone.
If you’re looking for a shorter program, some universities offer short-term study abroads over the winter holidays or even during spring break.
Since these programs are only a week or two, you will most likely not earn credit for an entire course, but you may be able to earn one credit toward your degree.
Can You Study Abroad For 4 Years?
Is it possible to study for four years in a foreign country as an American student?
The answer is yes! Although what you are probably looking at is not a traditional study abroad program while still attending an American university.
Instead, you will be enrolled as a degree-seeking international student at a foreign university.
While this is uncommon, it is definitely possible to get your degree from a university abroad. And in fact, for many students, this can be a LOT cheaper than getting a college education in the United States!
In many countries, you can earn your bachelor’s degree in just three years opposed to the traditional four of the United States.
Before you consider attending a foreign university for your degree, you will need to do a lot of research. While you can attend college abroad on a student visa, you may not be able to live abroad after you graduate as easily.
And if you move back to the U.S., you may not be able to transfer the qualifications for your degree as easily to get a job here.
These are things to keep in mind before you consider doing your whole degree abroad.
How Long Is Study Abroad?
This post showed you all the different lengths of study abroad programs.
If you’re interested in studying abroad, hopefully this helped you figure out what length program is right for you.
I highly recommend studying abroad in college, even if you can only do a shorter program, because the benefits are never-ending!