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About these rankings... These rankings are based on content extracted from over 16,000 student reviews collected on Abroad101. Many factors contributed to the final calculated rankings, including overall ratings given by students, number of reviews available, recency of reviews available, and in many cases, additional relevant data points found in Abroad101's review form. We spent hours finessing our methodology, crunching numbers to achieve statistical significance, revisiting equations learned while we were in college ourselves, and the following is what resulted. Remember that each college has their own approved programs, so be sure to consult your study abroad office and utilize our program finder, which includes hundreds of schools' approved lists. Enjoy!
The Top 10
The best of the best. The cream of the crop. The creme de la creme. However you want to say it, these listings rose above our other 7,500+ programs to form our top 10 study abroad programs for 2012. Rankings were calculated from our over 16,000 student reviews and considered the student's overall, academic, cultural, and administration experiences with their study abroad program.
Providing some of the best experiences and guidance for students across various aspects of study abroad, our 'Top Program Providers' list contains organizations sure to help make your abroad experience the best possible. Rankings were calculated from our over 16,000 student reviews and considered the student's overall, academic, cultural, and administration experiences with their study abroad program provider.
The Top 10 Study Abroad Programs
About this Category... The best of the best. The cream of the crop. The creme de la creme. However you want to say it, these listings rose above our other 7,500+ programs to form our top 10 study abroad programs for 2012. Rankings were calculated from our over 16,000 student reviews and considered the student's overall, academic, cultural, and administration experiences with their study abroad program.
Taking the top spot overall is CEA in Aix-en-Provence. Aix may be the most beautiful town in France, and CEA's program combines that beauty with a rigorous, academically focused experience that leaves alumni in awe.
"I had the most amazing experience with my program decision and could not imagine a better place to study abroad." Caitlin C - University of Tennessee
The Sant'Anna Institute's program in Sorrento, another majestic European village, is known for its small class sizes, intimate setting, and balanced approach to learning both in and out of the classroom, all the while surrounded by some of history's greatest sites.
"A great unique location that made people studying in Florence jealous." Benjamin P - SUNY - College of Technology at Alfred
IES Abroad: Beijing Foreign Studies University
Location: Beijing, China Provider: IES Abroad Available for Fall, Spring, Summer, and Academic Year
China is fast becoming a hotspot for study abroad, and IES Beijing is the highest ranked program in Asia, coming in at #3. Whether focusing on contemporary Chinese issues or intensive Mandarin, IES places students in the heart of Beijing in a challenging program.
"It completely changed my perspective on China and my future career... I discovered my interest in public health through the research I conducted at IES, and am pursuing a research grant to go back to China..." Allison K - Trinity University
The Education Abroad Network: Sydney - University of New South Wales
The Education Abroad Network: Sydney - University of Sydney
Location: Sydney, Australia Provider: The Education Abroad Network Available for Fall and Spring
The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) in Sydney leads the way in Australia, with students raving about the experiences at both the University of New South Wales and the U. of Sydney. This program immerses students in the local university, while introducing them to life in Australia through a unique orientation that rivals the Amazing Race!
"This was one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. I learned so much about myself... and was exposed to a completely new culture." Kyle G - The University of Texas at Austin
By the Beard of Zeus! U-Indy's branch campus in Athens, a top 10 winner in last year's rankings, is approaching 23 years of excellence. With full university immersion and great core classes all just a stone's throw from the Parthenon, this program definitely merits consideration.
"The location, the food, the culture; this study abroad program was unreal. It's amazing how much you learn about yourself and others by experiencing something like this... Do it! You'll see." Katie S - UMass - Amherst
For those interested in Australia beyond the capital, TEAN Gold Coast is an excellent option. Academically housed at Bond and Griffith University, this program is also situated just a few miles from some of the best surfing on Earth!
"Not having traveled much prior to studying abroad, the experience gave me the chance to meet such amazing people and see how many opportunities there are in the world outside of my home area." Amanada A - University of New Hampshire
Can't decide on one country? How about 12! Semester at Sea, run by the prestigious University of Virginia, has taken the idea of education across borders. Students circumnavigate the globe and gain local perspectives on issues such as foreign policy, ecology, and public health.
"Semester at sea challenged my worldview by exposing me, first hand, to the realities of the world. It changed my future..." Nick P - Western Washington University
There is a reason Florence is one of the top destinations for American students. AIFS students are taking university courses in the birthplace of the Renaissance, surrounded by architectural masterpieces in one of Italy's most charming cities.
"Studying abroad required me to be an independent adult... Traveling to each new place... has inspired me to pursue international law in order to travel more..." Elizabeth O - Manhattan College
Founded over 800 years ago, the University of Salamanca is the center of this medieval university town (and a UNESCO heritage site). This AIFS program offers top-notch academics and immersion in Spanish life in an unrivaled setting.
"AIFS in Salamanca was absolutely wonderful. It opened my eyes to another side of the world." Amanda S - Wright State University
Sol in Heredia places students in an optimal learning environment. Also ranked in the top language category, this program immerses students in a small city filled with local students, making it easy for students to reach their ultimate language potential.
"Studying abroad allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for my education...I would not go through any other program." Adele W - Oklahoma State University
About this Category... Sure to put a smile on your face, our 'Friendliest Cities' rankings result from a question we ask students regarding how many local friends they made during their time abroad that they intend to stay in touch with once their abroad venture concludes.
In Seoul-ful South Korea, social harmony is key. Add to that the feel-good melodies of K-pop sensations, and it's no wonder Seoul is our #1"
"This program made me fall in love with South Korea and its people. After I graduate, I'd like to live here for the rest of my life. :)" Jolene K - University of Hawaii - Manoa
Hello happy Hirakata city! With tons of amusement waiting at the well-known Hirakata Park, no wonder Hirakata is our #2 friendliest city. Just don't cause your Japanese peer to lose "face" and you've got a friend for life!
"There are amazing people in this world only separated by circumstance. Definitely worthwhile." A student - Villanova University
Programs: 49 Average Number of Local Friends Made: 4.8
Rounding out an all-Asia top three is Tokyo, which is quite impressive given that it's officially the largest metropolitan area in the world. Just be sure to share your sushi and you won't be short of tomodachi in this friendly metropolis.
"I met some friends that I'll keep in touch with for years to come. It was worth every minute and dollar I spent." Ean S - University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town secures the #4 spot with the essence of Ubuntu, a cultural philosophy that encourages friendship. Be sure to hike the world-famous Table Mountain with your newfound friends and observe the numerous plant species not found anywhere else in the world.
"From traveling to going out at night or just eating out for meals - there is so much to do in Cape Town and every local you meet is friendlier than the one before." Victoria S - Villanova University
#5 on our list is Moscow. Even with the largest community of billionaires in the world and long, cold winters, the often-forgotten pleasant summers and friendly locals are there to help warm you, body and soul.
"I learned that we all aren't so different, Russia is very similar to the United States and we are all people in the end despite political discourse and different experiences." Jade J - SUNY - College at Geneseo
Situated at the mouth of the Yangzte River, friendship flows in Shanghai, the #6 friendliest city on our list.
"...This experience has made me want to live in China for years to come. I have never... missed a place that was not my home like I miss Shanghai." Karen B - UAB
It's no wonder Cork comes in at #7...on the friendly scale, Irish eyes are always smiling! To celebrate your newfound friendships, buy your new buddy something special in the stores that line the famous St. Patrick's Street.
"Whenever I was able to interact with Irish people I did because they're great." Katie W - Drake University
Home to the prestigious University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland occupies our #8 spot. During the school year, students can make up one third of the town's population. Great news is they seem to be extremely friendly!
"I would do it again in a heartbeat. I miss... the people I met everyday and I can't wait to go back and visit sometime in the future." Katie S - Wellesley College
The #9 spot goes to Auckland, "The City of Sails." Whether you're skydiving or yachting, Kiwis know how to show their friends a good time.
"We were able to meet up with people as we traveled to and from cities. This provided us with... couches and floors to sleep on!" Lauren L - Marietta College
It's not hard to make friends down under. Rounding out our list at #10 is Sydney, where you can play a game of footie on the beach with your mates. Don't forget your sunnies and thongs!
"Australians are awesome, everybody has to come here. I have met some amazing people who I will be in contact with even after I return to the states." Kaelyn H - Quinnipiac University
Most Livable Cities
About this Category... Want to feel like a local wherever you study abroad? 16,000 students ranked destinations based on how easily they could integrate into daily life. These top destinations will have you feeling acclimated in no time!
Consistently ranked as one of the world's most livable cities and known as Australia's "cultural capital," it's no wonder Melbourne is #1 on our list.
"...there was always something going on...I attended music concerts, sporting events, and even a runway show at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week." Rebecca R - Wellesley College
Cultural heart of the Emerald Isle as well as a modern center of education and the arts, Dublin has more green spaces per square kilometer than any other European capital! That's why the "Fair City" is #2 on our livable list.
"Pubs were great! Definitely explore the city. I loved the atmosphere- lots of fun markets on the weekends- especially Temple Bar market. Christmas time in Dublin was beautiful, too!" Justine P - Ithaca College
Gold Coast, Australia
Programs: 16 Cultural Integration:
With Bollywood film sets, 35 miles of coastline, and a polyglot Mayor, Gold Coast is literally "famous for fun." That's why this city in south east Queensland comes in at #3 on our list for most livable cities.
"The Aussies taught me their laid back, care-free ways, their lingo, music, and hobbies. I fell in love with all the beaches and the surf lifestyle and it made my experience 10x better." A student - Lasell College
#4 on our list, the historic Mediterranean port city of Alicante is quite charming. Meet friends for an evening stroll along Spain's loveliest promenade, or explore the colorful quarter of Barrio de la Santa Cruz. Parks, music, and dining abound in Spain's fastest growing city.
"There were things going on every weekend in the city center... countless parades, fairs, etc. We went to museums, visited all of the historic places, went to all of the cities and towns surrounding Alicante." Liana - Providence College
Did you know that surfing, sea kayaking, and windsurfing are among Ireland's most popular sports?! You can enjoy all that and more in the misty city of Galway. Thanks to the openness of the Irish people, Galway makes the #5 spot for most livable city.
"The pub scene is fantastic, going to different pubs and enjoying the live music and Irish step dancing and meeting new people is exciting and very different than back home." Chelsea C
Originally a Stone Age settlement, the culture in Stirling runs so deep it's pre-historic! Making it to #6 on our list, Stirling is a higher education hub with beautiful views of the Scottish countryside.
"The wild life, nature, and environment around campus is abundant... and something that I will remember for years to come." David P - University of Northern Iowa
Wander "Windy Welly" when the local market is in full-swing and you'll fall in love with this quirky city. Frequent the bohemian cafes, or take in local Maori history at the world-renowned Te Papa Tongarewa and you'll see why Wellington takes the #7 spot.
"Going to the red rocks, the water front and jumping off the plank, Te Papa Museum which was unreal. Everything in the city of Wellington was an adventure and everyone is so nice it is hard not to have a good social time." Sarah S - College of Charleston
Located in a river valley overlooking the Pacific ocean, the culturally rich city of Lima is becoming a popular destination for students seeking a great academic experience off the beaten path.
"Machu Picchu! Other events include watching traditional dances, museums, swimming with sea lions, learning to cook Peruvian dishes, and drumming and dancing workshops." Melissa W - University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse
On the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the bohemian city of Prague is a political, cultural, and economic center in central Europe. Taking the #9 spot, you should really Czech it out.
"The sports games are so much fun, and the operas and ballets are amazing. I really loved seeing Sparta vs. Brno as it is such a huge rivalry and it really shows the patriotism Czechs have." Alaina B - Western Washington University
The third Irish city to make our list, it's clear students love living on the "old sod." With lots of love for luck, Guinness, and storytelling, we're not surprised to see Cork round out the #10 spot on our rankings for most livable cities.
"I met so many nice people and I made very good friends whom I still talk to everyday... The beautiful green hills and the scenery was so lovely i've never seen quite anything like it." Katie S - SUNY Purchase
Top Foodie Cities
About this Category... There is no better way to get to know a new culture than tasting fresh, local food. These delicious destinations go above and beyond, winning students' hearts (and stomachs!) as the top foodie cities.
The capital of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna epitomizes 'good taste' as students' pick for foodie capital of the world. With an endless list of regional specialties like lasagne, tortellini, prosciutto, and mortadella, Bologna will more than satisfy your cultural craving.
'Being one of the greatest cities and regions for food in Italy... We were discovering great restaurants and markets the entire time...' William T - Tufts University
Located in the south of France, Aix is a true culinary gem. The locals, or Aixois, enjoy world-renowned wineries as well as Calissons, an almond-shaped local delicacy with a unique melon flavor - a must try!
'The quality of food was great...I loved going to the open market almost every day and buying fresh food to cook, I would definitely recommend that!' Natalie B - Wellesley College
Programs: 23 Average Food Experience:
Siena will allow you to enjoy world-renowned cuisine under the Tuscan sun. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this scenic city keeps visitors satisfied with its variety of handmade pastas, soups, and meats.
'The markets (one on wednesday at the fortezza and one on friday in piazza del mercato) have amazing food... There's a little osteria on via della sapienza owned by two brothers, Bobbe and Davide which is a must visit, the food is amazing, so is the experience eating there.' Victoria C - University of Hartford
Welcome to Perugia, our already third Italian city, where you can find the Perugina chocolate factory. There's also Università dei Sapori (University of Tastes), a nationally renowned culinary institute.
'I found all the local restaurants to be amazing as well as decently priced for a student studying abroad. I also had access to many local markets where I could get tons of fresh fruits and vegetables for a very reasonable price.' Erica A - University of South Carolina
Making it four out of the top five for Italy in our Top Foodie Cities for students is Florence. Located right by Tuscany's Chianti region, Florence takes wine to the next level. The food equally reflects the finest ingredients of the Florentine countryside, with locally-made salami, porcini mushrooms, and fresh pastas adorning small neighborhood trattorias.
'My host mother was an AMAZING cook. I ate out not very often, but when I did the food was very good. There were always markets with fresh food and food vendors everywhere, which was a nice change from a grocery store because the food was high quality and fresh.' Kelsey K - Providence College
Roma is Italy's most populous city, and based on students' rave reviews, the food may be prime reason why people can't leave. Between the fresh pasta alla carbonara and gnocci alla romana, you can finish your meal with crostata di ricotta, a lemon-infused cheesecake.
'Rome is awesome. There is no end to the good food. Plus, it's Italy. On a bad day, they can still top anything most of the rest of Europe could churn out.' Nick S - University of Florida
Students can't get enough of the fresh street food lining the open markets and alleys of Thailand's capital. Bangkok features far more than Pad Thai, and you can snack on a variety of noodles as well as coconut and curry soups for less than a dollar.
'The food everywhere is amazing. If you are a vegetarian, ask a local friend for the word or write it on a card and everyone will be more than accommodating.' Jason P - Illinois State University
Freshly roasted chestnuts, baked pitas, and Spanakopita (crispy filo dough with spinach and feta), are just a sampling of what you can find in Greece's largest metropolis. Street vendors are a must, and students enjoy the Monastiraki section of the city, right by Parthenon, which offers some of the best street foods and open markets.
'Quality of food was fantastic, quantity was perfect, and food around town was amazing. Eat at tavernas, shop at the little grocery stores, and visit bakeries.' Emma U - Pacific Lutheran University
Want a table with a view? Luckily, Sorrento's vistas of the Bay of Naples' sparkling blue water are as breathtaking as their fresh seafood and pizzas. Top off your meal with Limoncello, a sweet drink that locals enjoy equally for its taste as its function as a digestive aid.
'BEST FOOD EVER! I miss it very much...and the gelato is amazing.' Maura C - Alfred State University
Coming in at #10 is Costa Rica's capital. Featuring such local delicacies as gallo pinto, a combination of fried rice and black beans, San Jose also features a variety of fresh fruit, including mango, papaya, and passion fruit.
'The fruit was the greatest thing ever. The freshest fruit you can imagine and all kinds of tropical tasty stuff everyday.' Tim B - Arizona State University
Top Academic Experiences
About this Category... Based upon students' ratings of the academic rigor and quality of their study abroad experience, our 'Top Programs for Academics' rankings highlight some truly exceptional programs.
Taking #1 is the Sant'Anna Institute in beautiful Sorrento, Italy. While at SASL, students are immersed in Italian language and culture, but what sets this school apart is its commitment to service learning projects.
"...such an energetic and passionate group of professors... Rather than feeling rushed... we had time to truly embrace that which we had learned." Andrew A - Alfred State University
One-on-one tutorials with some of the world's greatest scholars means that students can push their intellectual limits at Oxford. It's no surprise that this UK classic is at our #2 spot.
"I thought that I experienced an incredible amount of personal growth in addition to gaining a lot from the incredible academic experience." Senta K - Wellesley College
Location: Aix-En-Provence, France Provider: CEA Global Education Available for Fall, Summer, Spring, and Academic Year
#3 on our list is CEA's program where participants can experience the rich culture of French student life. Voted as "the most desired French town to live in", Aix-en-Provence is graced with beautiful fountains, winding streets, and historic buildings. The Institute for American Universities is one of the best French-language teaching centers in the country.
"I never found the program overly stressful, and I learned SO much. I absolutely loved my eccentric and hilarious professors, who I found truly were knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects." Elayna S - University of Tennessee - Knoxville
IES Beijing's reviews have a common refrain - "it's intense, but you'll adjust quickly!" With a demanding series of courses, excursions, and an intense language immersion, students relish the ability to work hard at this top program.
"Know that in the beginning you may find the classes to be very difficult, but eventually you will master it. If you are really interested and dedicated to improving your Chinese but you also want to have great experiences exploring new places and push yourself outside of your comfort zone- IES Beijing is the place for you." Meredith - Trinity University
It can be hard to understand global issues when all you have is the perspective of one country or culture. Semester at Sea conquers this modern conundrum by having great UVA courses taught in local contexts all over the globe.
"The integration of both book knowledge with experiential learning on Semester at Sea is what truly made it the experience of a lifetime." Nathaniel S - Ithaca College
From cross-cultural core classes to immersive courses at some of Paris's best institutions, CEA offers an impressive array of options for Francophiles. Whether at the Sorbonne or taking your French to a new level, this program can help students push themselves.
"A major difference is that at CEA they are very personable and WANT to help you succeed..." Leah P - California Polytechnic State University
This unique blend of traditional Irish education and a liberal arts curriculum grants students a great entry point to the life of a student in Ireland.
"I recommend any student who wants to study abraod to study at ACD in Ireland... You are likly to make friends with people you will continue to keep in touch with. ACD professors understand that you are here to study and explore... All in all an AMAZING experience." Lindsay D - Lynn University
For biology and envi-sci majors, the world is your classroom. OTS excels at this mindset, putting students immediately into the field in Costa Rica. As students hop between six field stations in different ecosystems, they get to experience their subject in a way no book can rival.
"OTS expanded my horizons and outlook on life and the impact I have on the planet." Andrew K - Tulane University
Indulge your inner DaVinci while at AIFS in Florence. Their partner institute, Richmond University, excels in art history, sculpture, painting, and photography. If your right-brain needs some exercise, this may be the spot!
"I enjoyed my classes abroad greatly. Each of my teachers came from a different background and presented very interesting perspectives." Elizabeth O - Manhattan College
Bond University is a leading institution for law, finance, economics, and medicine in Australia. With a wide range of academic options and the support of TEAN staff, students enjoy the life of the mind in the Gold Coast.
"Phenomenal experience on all accounts... Bond is a fantastic school with passionate teachers, and events throughout the semester that make you not want to ever leave." Steffan L - University of Maryland
Top Short-Term Programs
About this Category... The Top 10 short-term study abroad programs rank our faculty-led (internal to a specific university) programs plus our summer-only programs. Considered in the rankings were the students' overall, academic, cultural, and administration experiences with their study abroad program and managing organization.
Students at SFA are lucky, this school ranks #1 for their faculty-led program to Costa Rica. Traveling throughout the diverse Central American nation, students will develop an understanding of globalization processes along with an appreciation for indigenous flora, fauna, and language.
"I always thought that I had an open mind, however while being there; I felt that my boundaries were pushed and that I became a more culturally aware person." Meagan R - SFA
Imagine studying international business from a conference room at the HSBC Bank headquarters or on the roof of a Buddhist temple. Students on Marist College's traveling summer program will learn about people, cultures, and places across Asia, understanding the cultural context of business in the region.
"I learned to become detached from unimportant factors of life, abandon a ritual of living, and embrace the cultures that I was in. These all contributed to the greatest experience I have ever had." David L - Marist College
AHA International: Dublin - Summer Cultural Studies
Location: Dublin, Ireland Provider: AHA International
The AHA International Summer Cultural Studies program in Dublin, Ireland is designed for students looking for a well-rounded, interdisciplinary approach to Irish studies. Walk the same streets as James Joyce and come away with an appreciation of Irish culture, history, and geography.
"I got to see the world for what it was, not what the media told me it was. I will never forget this trip...All students will love this, unless you don't like having fun or being left breathless." Nick V - Indiana State University
Participants in this unique program (offered in the summer and winter) will study traditional West African music, dance, and craft making with local artists. With opportunities to observe Ghanian festivals, haggle at open-air markets, visit historic Cape Coast Castle, hike through the rainforest, and explore the capital city of Accra, what's not to love about ThisWorldMusic.
"The program may focus on music and dance, but the takeaways for me had much more to do with contemplating life in a foreign country, life back home, and how music and art can help build cultural bridges. This course woke me up from my cultural naiveté and impassioned me to further pursue world travel and music." A student - Rider University
Open to SUNY Geneseo students, this faculty-led program is a unique service-learning experience that combines cultural immersion and volunteerism to enhance students' education and benefit a small community in Nicaragua.
"1,000,000% worthwhile. I think about it every day. We didn't just visit Nicaragua, we LIVED in Nicaragua. The people were amazing, and I can't begin to explain all they've taught me. It makes me appreciate everything I have at home more, while also opening my eyes to the value of experiencing other cultures." Bennett M - SUNY - College at Geneseo
Students can visit up to 12 amazing European cities with this traveling multi-country summer program! Learning from world-renowned professors and international students of diverse backgrounds, you'll make life-long friends and truly become a better citizen of the world.
"any student can benefit from this program...we had the opportunity to see many different attractions, from Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to the Acropolis in Athens..." Emma N - Florida Atlantic University
Another great faculty-lead program for SUNY Geneseo students, this one examines the philosophical and religious traditions of the ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome. The educational experience of a lifetime, students are in Crete during the study of ancient civilizations, in Athens for the classical Greek civilization, in Rome for the Greco-Roman era, and in Florence for Medieval times and the Renaissance.
"In Greece everyone was very friendly...I gained a deeper understanding of the immense size of the earth and the large role that each person can play...everyone in the world is connected." Emmett O - SUNY - College at Geneseo
Traveling to Barcelona, London, and Paris, UVU students can experience three European cultural capitals in this faculty-led program. You'll be immersed in art, culture, and aesthetics, with opportunities to study art history and photography. Study art, make art, live art!
"I learned so much about myself and the world, and to be grateful for what I have. I feel very culturally enriched... one of the best things I have ever done." Emily M - Utah Valley University
INTO China offers students the opportunity to explore everything this international hub has to offer. The all-inclusive summer program includes Chinese language classes and a range of cultural activities and excursions throughout this compelling country.
"I had barely any knowledge of any Asian culture and I learned so much through this experience. I gained an understanding of Chinese culture and language and I also gained some great friends. I hope to see them again..." Shannon A - Colorado State University
This faculty-led program for UNI students travels to Southern Italy. There participants will investigate the environmental and social-political implications of climate change in a hands-on way, go on an archaelogical dig, and enjoy copious amounts of creamy Italian gelato. Divertiti!
"Studying in Southern Italy gave me a good sense of what Europe is like and better prepared me for future traveling...more for the active person who likes the outdoors...this trip made me want to travel more and spend more quality time in the outside." Laura T - University of Northern Iowa
Top Programs For Language Lovers
About this Category... Sure to delight the polyglot in all of us, the 'Top Programs for Language Lovers' rankings reflect how well students felt their program encouraged them to use the host country's language.
When it comes to linguistics, the Universite de Provence is one of the most eminent in France, and that's why it kicks us off at #1.
"I practiced French in everday interactions, with French friends, all my professors, and often with my American friends." Kara L - Wellesley College
Take courses at #2 on our list and the KCP International Language School might just have you turning Japanese.
"Speak speak speak! Don't be shy to always communicate in Japanese, and make flash cards - flash cards are great!" Kathleen B - Minneapolis College of Art & Design
IFSA-Butler: Argentine Universities Program
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina Average Language Experience: Available for Fall, Spring, and Academic Year
#3 on our list is IFSA-Butler's excellent program in Buenos Aires. Study here and you'll be spitting castellano like Che.
"I learned how to successfully communicate with people in another language, and most importantly I learned how to take advantage of living in and learning about another culture. It was DEFINITELY worthwhile." A student - The University of Texas at Austin
Once the lingua franca, study French at #4 on our list- the charming Aix Center in Southern France. Between bites of bread and cheese, be sure to speak the language of love.
"There is an international buddy program at IAU. I also got a lot of practice at home with my host mother and I took all of my classes in French." Audrey E - Longwood University
Coming in at #5 on our list for linguists is Sol Education Abroad's program at Latin University, Costa Rica. Immerse yourself in the language and experience the pura vida!
"Not only did we speak nothing but Spanish with our host families, the directors and other faculty members would always continue to speak to us in Spanish, to keep us fully submersed in the language!" Rachel M - Rutgers University - Camden
Top Science & Math Programs
About this Category... Calling all Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Majors! Rated by STEM major students, these programs are the best for those looking to crunch numbers abroad or get down and dirty with international ecosystems.
Taking our #1 spot is OTS in Costa Rica. Working with local farmers and scientists, students gain a uniquely intimate perspective of conservation in this Central American jewel.
"My mind was opened to so many new ideas for conservation issues and preservation... everything was seen and taught first hand." Melissa V - University of New Mexico
Landing at #2 is SFS in Costa Rica. Adventure seekers will be up to their ojos in flora and fauna, just the way we field researchers like it!
"SFS takes its students on field trips all over the country...we spent three days at a biological field station far from campus, went hiking through forests, ...and were able to experience a unique and biodiverse ecosystem firsthand." Christina C - Gonzaga University
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics
Location: Budapest, Hungary Provider: Budapest Semesters in Mathematics (BSM) Available for Fall, Spring, and Summer
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics occupies our #3 spot. "Hungary" for an academic challenge? Why not satisfy that desire with BSM, a program commonly regarded as one of the most prestigious programs for undergraduate Math majors!
"BSM is a rigorous and intense academic experience for those who want to study abroad with some of Hungary’s best mathematics professors, including some courses that are rarely found at American schools." Keith F - Brandeis University
The #4 spot goes to the University of St. Andrews Direct Enrollment/Exchange program in Scotland. Internationally recognized in Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics, this is one of Europe’s leading universities.
"It was an amazing experience...a student who is good at independent work, can manage their time well, and is mature will do well on this program." Kimberly C - Tulane University
SFS: Marine Resource Management Studies
Location: Turks and Caicos Islands Provider: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Available for Fall and Spring
Rounding out the top 5 STEM programs is SFS in Turks & Caicos. Spend your semester abroad snorkeling the aquamarine waters of the Carribean 'mon!
"Classes were very engaging because you were learning about fishes, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds and then... experiencing those ecosystems while snorkeling or scuba diving." Amanda G - University of San Diego
Top Non-traditional Countries
About this Category... Calling all trail-blazers, this ranking showcases the top rated countries for non-traditional locations, defined as countries not listed in the IIE Open Doors Report of The Leading 25 Study Abroad Destinations.
"[Poland] changed my life in many ways...students who are interested in living in an amazing place would love Krakow, a city where you are...immersed in history, culture, art, music, and language, all while... meeting some of the best people." Monica K - The University of Texas at Austin
Programs: 44 Average Experience:
Program Spotlight Amizade: Tanzania
"You have to check out programs in Tanzania... a high point in my undergraduate career...it has given me a whole other perspective that I continually reflect upon in both my academic and personal life." Ryan G - University of Pittsburgh
Programs: 47 Average Experience:
Program Spotlight SIT: Health & Community Development
"East Africa and Kenya specifically are great places to study abroad; people are welcoming and kind, and have much love for American students...the cultural and educational experiences I had in Kenya were enriching, intellectually stimulating, and difficult..." Erinn B - Wellesley College
Turks and Caicos Islands
Program Spotlight SFS: Marine Resource Management Studies
"Interacting with the people on South Caicos was probably one of my favorite aspects of my semester abroad...South Caicos thrives on its fisheries, so hanging out by the docks during the day or at the bars after the boats come in ensures social interaction with some charismatic locals...embrace the easy-living attitude that comes with living on South Caicos." Chase G - Davidson College
Program Spotlight Galen University: San Ignacio
"No trip to Belize is complete without snorkeling or diving along its barrier reef which is gorgeous, and the water is always warm enough to swim in. Mayan ruins are scattered throughout Belize, and...waterfalls and pools can be found in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve." Ryan M - New Mexico State University
Program Spotlight USAC: Business Management, Economics & Political Studies
"This country is one of the most incredible places to be able to live, with jungles, cities, and islands that are incomparable to anywhere else on earth. Thailand is incredibly internationalized and great for foreign travelers... go see it for yourself. Thailand is the life." Kelly R - Western Washington University
"I loved being abroad, it was something I'd wanted to do since I was in elementary school but never had the money to do before. Studying in Taiwan left me re-energized and gave me a love for learning again. It was the best decision of my academic career." Levi E - Illinois State University
Top Program Providers
About this Category... Providing some of the best experiences and guidance for students across various aspects of study abroad, our 'Top Program Providers' list contains organizations sure to help make your abroad experience the best possible. Rankings were calculated from our over 16,000 student reviews and considered the student's overall, academic, cultural, and administration experiences with their study abroad program provider.
"TEAN was amazing. They were friendly and always available to help us with anything... definitely knowledgeable about Australia and America overall, as well as regarding higher education..." Julia K - University of Miami
University of Indianapolis
Programs: 4 Average Experience with Administration:
"The Director was so incredibly helpful...She took time to answer all my questions... and always made herself available to us throughout our entire stay. She was like a substitute mother." Lizi L - Winona State University
|Semester at Sea|
|Academic Programs International (API)|
"AIFS was an amazing experience... The staff in Prague is absolutely wonderful... They are literally always available, either in the office or by cell phone, if you have any kind of emergency, question, or just want to talk." Keller P - The University of Texas at Austin
"Phenomenal ISA staff. Can't say enough about how wonderful they are. They went out of their way to make sure everyone got everything they wanted out of the program. Because we were a small group (23 people), they practically individually tailored the program to whatever we wanted to do." Christian M - UCLA
"The USAC office was like our family abroad. They looked after us on all aspects and were more than willing to help whenever needed." A student - University of the Pacific
"The strengths are the research experiences and field techniques and the hands on learning base. The station was also run very efficiently with the resources available and all of the staff were helpful." Karissa L - Clark University
Top Budget-Friendly Countries
About this Category... Rated by students as having the lowest cost of living, you'll get the "Most Bang for your Buck" in these countries. Looking to stretch your pennies even farther? Check out this blog post for more places that are easy on the wallet.
No need to count your pesos in Mexico; it's rated the #1 budget friendly destination. That means you can afford top shelf tequila shots... but only after finals of course :)
"Everything was really cheap...I probably spent $40-50 a week." Patrick J - Trinity University
Good thing Senegal's exchange rate works in our favor - the country is known for its vibrant fabrics and bustling markets. Student shoppers, you've been warned...bring an extra suitcase for colorful souvenirs.
"Senegal is fairly cheap. You could spend very little if you wanted to. I didn't realize how inexpensive the city would be." Tessa G - Wellesley College
Programs: 89 Cost of Living:
For student travelers watching their céntimos, Peru is a great option at #3 on our budget friendly list. Here you can eat well and still have enough money to hike Machu Picchu.
"I spent very little on the typical week...I would estimate that I spent maybe $10 per week." Emily E - Trinity University
Rich in cultural diversity and renowned natural attractions, Kenya is an excellent budget destination for the adventurous traveler. Stretch your shillings to get up close and personal with wildlife in the savannah grasslands.
"Everything in Kenya is much cheaper than in the United States." Carolyn A - The College of William and Mary
Despite it being the fastest growing major economy in the world, The Land of the Dragon still makes our budget list. Perhaps it has something to do with all of the scholarships that are available for students studying abroad in China!
"Even though we used taxis almost everyday, I didn't spend much at all... If you want to buy gifts for others,... You can barter prices really low, only pay 25-50% of the original asking price." Shannon A - Colorado State University
For students on a shoestring, it seems East Africa is the place to be. Coming in at #6 is Tanzania, where thrifty students can enjoy views of Mt. Kilimanjaro all semester long.
"Everything was really inexpensive... I'd say that I spent about $15 a week." Kara S - Rollins College
Considering Turks and Caicos is a popular destination for dream weddings, luxury honeymoons, and all out vacations, it's amazing the value that study abroad students receive in this tropical locale.
"I would recommend Turks and Caicos to anyone interested in a hands-on outdoors experience that is truly once in a lifetime..." Lauren O - Dickinson College
RT flight from DC to Quito? $600. Chance to study in the high sierras of the Andes, the vast rainforest of the Amazon, or the extraordinary Galápagos Islands to view plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth? Priceless.
"Food and day-time transportation are very inexpensive: buses are $0.25 for each ride, food is no more than $5 for a large and nicer meal..." Brooke O - Hope College
With a capital of Bangkok, it's fitting that Thailand comes in at #9 on our most "Bang for your Buck" list. Or should we say "Bang for your Baht." Just another reason this country is the "Land of Smiles."
"Bangkok is a very cheap place to live and study so you can live with a low budget." Ben H - Alabama State University
The cultural trend-setter of the Arabic-speaking world, Egypt takes the #10 spot for easiest on the wallet destinations. Frugal students can kiss the Sphinx or sail the Nile river, all without breaking the bank.
"Egypt is super cheap if you cook your own food and eat the local food." Margaux M - Presbyterian College
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Abroad101's Program Finder
We have over 7,500 programs, so odds are there's one perfect for you. Tough part is actually finding that one ready to offer the life-changing experience you're craving. Our 'Program Finder' can help by quickly filtering programs based on your needs. See what former students have said about a program's academics, housing, and various other aspects so you choose a program guaranteed to satisfy. If you register for an Abroad101 account, we'll even tell you which programs your university has already approved!
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Abroad101's Scholarship Giveaways
Going abroad can be quite the financial burden and can often be that one last hurdle between you and your dream study abroad experience. Let us help you tackle this final obstacle with one of our study abroad scholarships! We've given away over $110,000+ in scholarships thus far and are only getting started. From scholarships to study abroad in popular cities like Rome or Beijing to full TEFL certification giveaways, Abroad101 is here to help turn your abroad dream into reality!
About these Rankings... This year’s rankings are the result of over 16,000 evaluations and more than 800,000 data points that have been collected by Abroad101. Abroad101 works with over 200 US Colleges and Universities to collect these evaluations.
All of the rankings were determined solely by our student reviews. We aggregated the data across several categories and applied a mathematical algorithm, which considered all of the relevant data, as well as the number of reviews. There was no voting process or priority given to any program based on payment or advertising with Abroad101; the results are the sole factors that determine which programs and locations make it onto our ranking lists and at what ranks. (Note: the rankings are not based on nor do they reflect our opinions of the programs).
When selecting programs, students should always consult with their study abroad offices and make sure that their program meets their academic requirements and are eligible for credit from their university.
|Category||Considered Data Points|
|Top 10 Overall Programs||Overall, Program Administration, Academics, Social/Cultural Intergation, and the aggregate responses to "If you were going to study abroad again, would you choose the same program." (Note – programs also must be open to visiting students).|
|Top 10 Providers||Overall, Program Administration, Academics, and Social/Cultural Intergation|
|Top 10 Short-Term Programs||Overall, Program Administration, Academics, and Social/Cultural Intergation|
|Top 10 Academic Experiences||Academic Experience and Academic Rigor|
|Top 5 Language||Language|
|Top 5 Science/Math||Academic and Overall rating from students declaring a STEM major|
|Most Livable Cities||Social/Cultural Integration|
|Top 10 Non-Traditional Countries||Overall Score (programs listed are a random sample of highly rated programs in each country)|
|Most Friendly Cities||Number of local friends made|
|Top Foodie Cities||Food Rating|
|Top Budget-Friendly||Cost of Living|
A: Abroad101 is growing quickly and this means several aspects of the rankings have changed. This year we felt it was important to consider sub-categories of rankings in each of the major categories, to reflect more than just the overall experience a student had. To account for this, we included additional data points in most categories (see #2 for more details).
Additionally, our data set has doubled since last year’s rankings. This provides us with a wealth of information and allows us to set higher standards for each of the categories, to ensure that our results are as recent and relevant as possible.