How many types of study abroad programs are there?
Decades ago, study abroad was mostly configured as student exchange programs. For example, an American school (high school, college or university) “traded” one of their students with an overseas school. Most often, these exchanges happened between U.S. schools and European schools, and their purpose was regarded as both student enrichment and cultural exchange.
The 21st century version of study abroad has moved far from the student exchange model—though this change may be difficult for students and parents to discern. There is no central registry of study abroad programs. This means that there’s no one place to “see” all options and note just how variable they’ve become.
- Sometimes a college or university maintains an overseas campus. But this arrangement is increasingly rare. For one thing, the cost of maintaining an overseas campus is high, particularly when compared to other options.
- Sometimes a professor takes students on study abroad programs. These programs are generally content specific, reflecting the expertise of the professor, and may appear on the school’s website.
- Sometimes a college or university has a direct relationship with a study abroad provider, with no intermediary between the two. This kind of school-to-school “partnership” generally evolves from a longstanding relationship, and the partner program often appears on the school’s website.
- This brings us to the fastest growing sector of study abroad, the third party program.