Study Abroad

10 Universities Where You Can Study Abroad in English

Rachael Taft

In addition to working in international exchange, Rachael writes about gap years and career development while traveling.

Everyone knows a huge benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn another language. But what if that’s not really your end goal? What if you’re dying to get abroad and experience another culture, but you really need to take classes in your major? Not to mention a lot of subjects have terminology that is pretty specialized, which can make some classes hard to grasp even if you do have some knowledge of another language!

With English as the most common second language in the world, it just makes sense to offer courses in it.

Thankfully, English is the common language at a lot of universities around the world. Many schools really want to attract international students, but it would be difficult for a school in, say, Germany to offer tons of classes conducted in Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French… you get the idea. With English as the most common second language in the world, it just makes sense to offer courses in it.

That being said, there are tons and tons of universities that offer a huge array of English-taught courses, but the following are some of the best. They’ve got some of the largest selections of classes, the best reputations, the most diverse student bodies (and faculties), and are located in some of the most dynamic cities, beautiful landscapes, and central locations across the globe.

1. Maastricht University, Netherlands

Most of the programs at Maastricht University (undergraduate and postgraduate!) are taught in English. In fact, it was one of the earlier international universities to adopt an English-dominant curriculum.

Almost half of students at Maastricht are international students, making for a fun and multicultural environment to spend a semester. The university offers exchange programs in arts, social sciences, business and economics, life sciences, humanities, law, psychology, and more. Maastricht is also super (super!) close to both Belgium and Germany, so weekend travel around Europe is a breeze!

2. John Cabot University, Italy

All classes are in English at this private American liberal arts university located in Rome. John Cabot University is a hub for study abroad and international students, which means you’ll be studying alongside students from all across the United States as well as nearly 60 different countries, all while being surrounded by the art, culture and history of the Eternal City.

Oh, and just because all your classes are in English, it doesn’t mean you can’t still squeeze in an Italian class… It is the language of love, after all!

3. Stockholm University, Sweden

Stockholm University offers a few bachelor’s degree programs in English (which translates into a lot of courses!) as well as a huge number of postgraduate programs in English. Sweden is also a great country to hang out in if you’re relying solely on English, as pretty much all Swedes speak English (even those who claim they have poor English will probably put you to shame!)

Plus much of their TV and movies are in English with Swedish subtitles (hence their excellent English abilities). But if you do have a desire to pick up some Swedish, the university offers Swedish language courses free of charge in addition to your regular courses. And don’t forget to research what scholarships for study abroad in Sweden you might be able to apply for to cover your tuition!

4. National University of Singapore

Universities Where You Can Study Abroad in English: National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is the oldest university in Singapore and is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in Asia. The main teaching language is English and, in general English is the language that reigns in the melting pot that is Singapore.

Even so, it’s still a great opportunity to be exposed to a myriad of other languages and cultures. Singapore is also a great hub for exploring other parts of Asia, and a bustling city with plenty to see and do (on all budgets!).

Furthermore, NUS has partnerships with more than 50 U.S. universities, including all University of California colleges, George Washington University, and Northwestern. So, not only is transferring credits easy for most students, but having the pre-approval of top-notch American universities speaks for the quality of education at NUS and a great university for students who want to study abroad in Singapore.

5. Sophia University, Japan

Sophia University has a range of programs taught in English in the liberal arts and sciences. Sophia is one of the top-ranked private universities in Japan. Located in Tokyo, there will never be a shortage of things to do or lack of other foreigners to interact with -- your best bet in Japan as far as getting away with knowing minimal Japanese (though, we still think it's a good idea to take a Japanese language class or two).

The university also has exchange partnership programs with numerous universities around the world, including Yale University. Given that this selective university only has a 5% acceptance rate, a study abroad exchange may be your best bet!

6. University of Hong Kong

This university, also called Hong Kong University or HKU, uses English as its main language of instruction. More than 40 countries are represented just from HKU’s professors alone, Classes are offered in nearly any discipline you can think of -- arts and humanities, business and economics, education, engineering, law, science, social science -- and the university has partnerships with scores of universities around the world.

And don’t let the fact that your classes are in English allow you to fall into an easy just-like-home slump. Get out there and explore your host city too!

HKU is regularly ranked among the top universities in Asia. And if you’re feeling at all nervous about studying abroad, HKU offers an Exchange Buddy Program, which will match you with a local student. You’ll be able to talk before your arrive in Hong Kong, and then your buddy will meet you at the airport, help you settle in, and offer support throughout your time abroad!

7. King’s College, London

With more than 800 courses to choose from (all in English, of course!), there’s no limit to what you can study at King’s College in London. Your campus will stretch along the Thames and you’ll have one of the greatest cities in the world as your classroom. KCL is also regularly ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, and you’ll be surrounded by some of the best and brightest from across the globe.

8. University of Sydney, Australia

Of course, the best way to be sure your classes are in English is to attend a university in an English-speaking country! The University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia and arguably Australia’s most prestigious.

Oh, and it’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world (if Pixar says it, it must be true!). Plus you’ll be surrounded by a gorgeous city, spectacular beaches, majestic mountains…. and have an entire country full of English-speakers to explore!

9. University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa

Universities Where You Can Study Abroad in English: University of Cape Town

English is the instructional language at UCT, which is the oldest university in South Africa and one of the oldest in Africa. In a country with 11 official languages, English is easy to get by with and the most common language you’ll see and hear pretty much everywhere.

Cape Town has a feel that is almost more European than African, and is a city -- really an entire peninsula -- so full of delights you’ll never be bored.

The university also boasts nearly 20% international students from more than 100 countries in its student body, so there will be a lot of culture to explore. UCT is also the highest ranked university in Africa, so you can be sure your classes will be worthwhile.

10. University of Malta, Msida Malta

At the heart of the Mediterranean, the tiny island of Malta offers all course instruction in English at their one, national university. They also welcome numerous international students -- both as study abroad students and through direct enrollment -- which means you'll be able to make both local and international friends.

Bonus: American Universities Abroad

Of course another sure way to study abroad in English is to go to an American university. Take your pick of some of the coolest cities in the world -- there are American universities on almost every continent, some of which include:

Note that these universities are not necessarily associated with each other, but they all follow the American style of higher education and offer American degrees, so transferring your credits back home should be a breeze!

It's Only the Beginning

Now that you have a place to start, that’s only the beginning. Even if you think you already know where you want to study, take some time to look more closely at each university to see if they offer the right courses in your major or have any kind of partnership or affiliation with your university.

This can save you a ton of heartache -- and money (direct enrollment, anyone?!) -- rather than jumping in eyes closed. And don’t be afraid to go off the list. While King’s College is awesome, you may find that there’s another school -- maybe even also affiliated with the University of London -- that better suits your needs.

And don’t let the fact that your classes are in English allow you to fall into an easy just-like-home slump. Get out there and explore your host city, meet some locals -- the great thing about all these schools is that they’ll have scads of local students and international students from other countries than your own! And if you do find yourself in a country where English is not the dominant language, take some classes on the side or find a language partner. Don’t come home from Japan only knowing “Konichiwa”!