How to Select a Program

The first step in studying/working abroad is choosing the right program. You want your time abroad to be rewarding and valuable, and finding a program that is a good fit can make all the difference. The following guideline can help you determine a program that is right for you.

  1. Identify your reasons for wanting to go abroad. Consider the following questions regarding your objectives:
    • Why are you interested in going abroad
    • What do you want to do abroad? Study? Travel? Work? Help people?
    • If you want to study, do you what to study intensively in your major field? Or are language classes and cultural studies more important
    • How deeply do you want to be immersed in the culture? Do you want to attend classes and live with other Americans or with nationals of the host country
    • Where would you like to go? Do you want to spend most of your time in one location or travel to several places? Do you prefer cities or towns?
    • Is foreign language proficiency necessary to study or work in the country you have selected?
    • When do you want to go? How long would you like to stay?
    • If you are planning to study abroad, do you expect to earn credit for it?
    • Would going abroad alter your education plans?
  2. Identify several specific international opportunities that meet your needs, and write for information and application forms
  3. Consider the costs of these programs. How much money could you afford to spend? Would you need financial assistance to carry out your plans? For which kind(s) of financial aid do you qualify? Can this assistance be used abroad?
  4. Discuss your plans including possible academic credit, with your study abroad advisor, academic advisor, registrar's office, and financial aid office.
  5. Discuss the program with program representatives and recent alumni
  6. Increase the knowledge of the host country and its language through courses, individual reading, and discussions with people who have been there and students from that country. Carefully consider the health, safety, economic, and political situations in choosing a location
  7. Carefully consider the questions below when comparing various programs

Program Sponsor

  • What organization operates the program in which you are interested?
  • What is the organization's interest in promoting study/work abroad opportunities
  • Are your study abroad advisors and professors familiar with the organization of the program?
  • Where is the organization's headquarters? Does the organization have a local representative with whom you could speak?

Program Objectives

  • What are the program's objectives?
  • How do they match your own objectives?
  • Is the length of the program sufficient to achieve your objectives?
  • Does the program include or make available the education and extra curricular activities you desire (i.e. field trips, excursions)?

Admissions Requirements

  • What are the language requirements? Are they too high or too low for your objectives and level of preparation
  • How will your placement in courses such as art language and music be determined?
  • Do you have the grade point average, academic level and prerequisite courses that are required?


  • Is the program/institution accredited?
  • What courses are offered? Will they enable you to meet your objectives?
  • How will credits be transferred? Does the program issue a transcript show grades, dates attended and credit earned?
  • If enrollment in a host country's institution is involved is the level appropriate to your academic level?
  • If you will be enrolling in courses offered by a host country institution will they be courses normally taken by host country students or courses designed for foreign student.
  • Who will make the necessary arrangements for you to enroll in the host country institution


  • What are the qualifications of the faculty members described?
  • Are faculty members American, citizens of the host or some of each

Program Administration
  • Is there someone specifically responsible for academic and personal advising?
  • Is there a program office open at regular or convenient hours, with program staff regularly available to assist students?

Program and Host Country Resources
  • Will you have access to plays, concerts, museums, libraries and other resources that you would like to make a part of your experience?
  • Do you have proficiency in the language of the host country adequate to enable you to use library materials or work on educational projects that involve talking with host country people?
  • How will the program foster your contacts with host country citizens?

  • What types of housing are available? How will the housing arrangements be made?
  • If the program sponsor makes housing arrangements, how will your preferences be taken into consideration?
  • What action will the program sponsor take if you want to change your housing accommodations? What are the conditions for changing?

Travel Arrangements
  • What information has been provided concerning the arrangements for your travel to the program site and your return home?
  • Will you be able to travel on your own after the program ends, or are you required to return home with the program group at a specified time?

  • What orientation activities will you be involved in before you leave the United States?
  • Will the program sponsor help you contact alumni of the program for information?
  • What orientation activities will you be involved in after arrival in the host country?
  • What type of re-entry activities will you be involved in at the conclusion of the program?

  • What items are covered in this fee? Does the organization provide an itemized break down of academic costs, study materials, living expenses, airfare, insurance, etc?
  • How will you pay this amount? What is the payment schedule?
  • Under what circumstances will a refund be made? What options does the program offer in the event of cancellation of services/programs? Will it assist with rescheduling and travel arrangements?
  • What additional items should you consider in your budget?