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The Best Study Abroad Destinations for 13 Popular Majors

The Best Study Abroad Destinations for 13 Popular Majors

So you've decided to study abroad and you know what you want to study, but you're not sure where to go to study say art history, healthcare, or English lit? With such a beautiful, large world to explore, one of the most difficult steps in the study abroad process can be choosing where it is you want to go. But don’t worry -- Go Overseas is here to help.

We've done the research and the results are in! Below are the best, most classic, study abroad destinations based on thirteen popular majors and student areas of interest.

1. Art History: Florence, Italy

Florence art history

There could be no possible better destination to study art history abroad than Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. This charming and friendly Italian city in Tuscany is bustling with creativity, art, and beauty. Its compact city center has the feel of an open-air museum and is easy to explore on foot.

While the Italian Renaissance may have occurred hundreds of years ago in the 14th century, the innovative techniques that were invented during this time period have had a lasting impact on the foundation of modern art, including perspective, the use of oil paints, the depiction of non-religious subjects and sculptures “in the round.” Florence offers the unique opportunity to see many of the art works that were the first to use many innovative techniques that are a staple in art today.

Thousands of works that contributed to the foundation of art are found in Florence including the Statue of David by Michelangelo, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli and Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael. The Uffizi Gallery (pictured above), located in the city, is one of the oldest and most famous art galleries in the world. A walk through this museum is literally a walk through the history of art. If you love art history, or are considering majoring in it in college, Florence should be high on your bucket list.

Explore your options for study abroad programs in Florence and high school programs in Italy.

2. English Literature: Oxford, England

British literature in Oxford, England

It seems all the classics of English literature hail from Great Britain. From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, for centuries British writers have toiled away at their craft, perfecting the use of language and developing the foundations for the modern novel.

And perhaps no city in the United Kingdom has had such a profound impact on the development of English language and literature than Oxford. (Hey, the Oxford English Dictionary comes from here, after all). JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were both part of a writer’s group here, and Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde and William Golding all studied or taught at Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Oxford is a manageable city to navigate and home to dozens of historical sites. It also makes a great base for travel to other literary focused destinations in England such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London, the Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth, and Haworth Village, the birthplace of the Bronte sisters. If you're interested in the study of English literature or becoming a writer yourself, Oxford is sure to fill you with inspiration and is a great place to hone your skills.

Not to mention, Oxford University itself offers study abroad programs for both college and high school students -- generally during the summer months. Campus Oxford is one provider to try. English lit at one of the worlds finest institutions? Take that, future employers and college apps!

Get studying with study abroad programs in Oxford.

3. Mandarin: Shanghai, China

Learn Chinese in Shanghai

With 955 million speakers, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. And, as China becomes more and more of a global power, the importance of English-speakers learning the language is increasing like never before. In fact, Mandarin is considered a “critical language” by the U.S. Department of State (meaning, there are scholarships and grants out there to study it). Chinese is certainly a strategic alternative to the traditional study of romance languages.

With more than 14 million residents, Shanghai is the most populous city in the world. It's the economic capital of China and an important financial hub. The coastal city is one of the fastest developing cities in the world. People have lived in Shanghai for more than 5,000 years, making it a great place to learn about Chinese history and culture as well as the language.

Being home to such a large number of people, language schools, and universities, there are many options for college students and high schoolers alike to learn Mandarin in Shanghai.

Not just that, but you'll also have a chance to learn more about Chinese culture while studying abroad here. Shanghai’s many historical and tourist attractions, including Yu Garden, China Pavilion, and The Bund, a water promenade with colonial buildings, also make it a fun place to practice your new-found language skills with locals.

4. Engineering: Singapore

Study engineering in Singapore

Located in Southeast Asia off the coast of Malaysia, Singapore is a vibrant island nation that is home to one of the top financial hubs in the world. English is one of the official languages of the country, so it makes it an easy country for students of all ages to navigate and learn about the culture.

The standard of living in Singapore is very high, and the country is home to many engineering marvels and innovations. In Singapore, there's free wireless broadband, radio frequency identification car tags collect tolls, and people use their phones or wristwatch to use mobile money to pay for goods. Singapore airlines recently ranked as number two in the world, and the skyline is chocked full of skyscrapers.

The Singaporean teaching style focuses on covering fewer topics in greater depth and emphasizes that every student in class much reach a certain level before progressing to the next topic. These innovative teaching methods are especially useful in math and science and being adopted in the United Kingdom. With such an advanced engineering industry and proven teaching methods, Singapore is an ideal destination to study engineering abroad.

5. Outdoor Education: Costa Rica

Study outdoor education in Costa Rica

Though Costa Rica is a small country and only makes up .03 percent of the world’s landmass, it is the most biodiverse countries on the planet and contains 5 percent of the planet’s biodiversity.

Favorite animals spotted here include sloths, white face capuchin monkeys, coatamundi, scarlet macaws, and leaf cutter ants. In addition to flora and fauna, Costa Rica is home to a diverse array of ecosystems including tropical rainforests, cloud forests, volcanoes, mangroves, coastlines and coral reefs.

With rushing rivers, warm water swells and mountainous trails, Costa Rica is also a top destination for outdoor and adventure activities including hiking, white water rafting, surfing, ziplining, camping and scuba diving.

With such a wide variety of wildlife, landscapes, and adrenaline activities, Costa Rica is an ideal destination to learn about outdoor education. A variety of program providers in the Central American nation will help you gain hands-on leadership experience and even earn internationally recognized certifications that can help you find an internship or job in outdoor education.

The country offers the unique opportunity to gain experience in a variety of different real-world situations and environments. The friendly locals also make it a welcoming place to soak up culture and perhaps even improve your Spanish language skills. Look at your options for studying in Costa Rica now. If you're in high school, there are lots of great high school level volunteer programs in Costa Rica as well.

6. Spanish Language: Lima, Peru

Study Spanish in Lima, Peru

Spanish is one of the most popular languages for students in North America to study. There are more than 35 million Spanish speakers in the United States alone. Learning this language will be key for students who wish to work in many industries and businesses in the United States and Latin America alike.

From Spain to Chile, Spanish is the official language in 20 countries around the world. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which country is the best for studying the language. Our pick is Peru.

According to a study conducted by the University of Chile, Peru speaks one of the easiest to learn versions of Spanish in all of Latin America, based on the pronunciation and vocabulary spoken by Peruvians.

Spanish language aside, Peru is also an affordable country for study abroad. In fact, Lima, which sits on the Pacific coast of Peru, was recently ranked the third most affordable city in Latin America. Its buildings and neighborhoods are a mix of modern metropolitan districts and charming colonial streets. Lima also is a great base to learn about Peruvian culture and take trips to the Incan capital of Cuzco or ruins of Machu Pichu. Go ahead, Spanish-learners, study in Peru.

7. Environmental Science: Tanzania

Study environmental studies in Tanzania

Located in East Africa, Tanzania is home to some of the most iconic African landscapes, including Serengeti National Park and Kilimanjaro National Park. Off the coast, the tropical islands of Zanzibar and Mafia Marine Park are home to colorful ocean ecosystems. If you are looking for cheetahs, lions, elephants, rhinoceros and whale sharks, you’ll find them in Tanzania.

With unparalleled wildlife, environmental science and conservation are of the utmost importance in this vibrant African nation, making it a great destination to study environmental science. Solar energy is also a booming industry in the country. Students who study abroad in Tanzania will likely be involved in volunteer projects, learning through hands-on experience doing anything from purifying water in remote villages, tracking species in wildlife preserves or helping local communities with sustainability efforts.

Tanzania is also a very welcoming country for foreign students. The country operates following the concept of “Ujamaa.” The principals of the Swahili word, meaning family hood or communism, is a part of all aspects from society from government policies to business transactions to making strangers feel part of society and local culture. Sound like an educational adventure? See what study abroad programs are in Tanzania.

8. International Development: Ghana

Study international relations in Ghana

International development studies is a rising field dedicated to shaping the world by changing overseas communities for the better. Students of international development learn how to use cultural knowledge, business skills and sociological perspectives to help improve communities that face issues such as economic inequality, social injustice and human rights abuses.

Located in Northwest Africa, Ghana is home to 27 million residents and a number of diverse cultures and languages. The country also has 16 national parks that are home to unique wildlife, stunning beaches and interesting ecosystems.

Ghana has a reputation for being a safe and welcoming study abroad destination. The country has been politically stable for more than two decades and is known for being peaceful. However, many of its citizens live in extreme poverty. Ghana faces many issues such as lack of clean drinking water, HIV/AIDS infections and lack of farm subsidies. While the literacy rate for women (58 percent) is much higher than the surrounding countries, education for females in Ghana is still a concern as well.

Students who study abroad in Ghana can learn about international development first hand as they participate in service projects related to public health, construction, teaching, and more.

9. Photography: Wellington, New Zealand

Study photography in New Zealand

The two islands that constitute New Zealand are rife with diverse natural ecosystems. With so many picturesque landscapes, it’s no wonder why so many places in New Zealand were selected for filming locations in The Lord of the Rings films. Students who are passionate about photography will feel right at home in New Zealand.

From the 90-mile beach at Cape Reinga, to the “Mordor” mountains of Tongariro National Park, to the fjords of Milford Sound, New Zealand’s nature offerings are some of the best revered in the world. With so many unique backdrops and subjects, it is a great country to better one’s skills.

Located on the North Island, Wellington is the capital of the country. Its compact city-center is full of world-class museums, historic districts and charming laneways. Nature is just a step away from the city center -- it's also in close proximity to beaches and mountains for hiking. The home of Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, Wellington is also known as the creative capital of the country and is home to the largest concentration of artists and photographers.

This safe, English speaking nation consistently ranks amongst the world’s friendliest countries. Oh yea, the fish and chips here aren’t bad either!

Find a study abroad program in Wellington, or a high school program in New Zealand.

10. Education: South Korea

Study Education in South Korea

Students who are interested in becoming teachers will find that studying abroad will not only expand their horizons, but help them better relate to ever diversifying classrooms in the United States. Future teachers will also be able to share cultural knowledge and enthusiasm they gain while studying abroad and help their students develop a greater world view.

East Asian countries are known for having some of the best education systems in the world, and South Korea consistently tops the list. The country is 100 percent literate. The South Korean educational model is centered around year-round studies and students working hard to achieve future success. Education students may find there are many takeaways from Korean teaching methods that they can apply to their future work as teachers in the United States.

Apart from its outstanding education system, South Korea offers foreign students much to discover. Blending old and new, the country has many temples, palaces and historical sites of interest including Seoraksan National Park, Bulguksa Temple and the extravagant department stores of Seoul. South Korea also has a distinct and traditional culture that is a marvel to witness and learn about while studying abroad in Korea.

11. Healthcare: Denmark

study healthcare in denmark

Denmark, along with many countries in Western Europe, has one of the highest quality healthcare systems in the world. Medical facilities in the country are clean, advanced and high tech. Satisfaction among citizens of the country’s healthcare system is also quite high. Danish residents and EU citizens receive healthcare free of charge as the Danish health service is financed through income tax.

In addition to high quality medical care and facilities, Denmark is also a great destination to study healthcare because most doctors and dentists are bilingual and speak English. Denmark is an excellent vantage point to study medical systems in Europe as a whole as well as observe the workings of a continent that primarily operates using socialist healthcare systems.

Health is a large priority in Denmark. In Copenhagen, 45 percent of workers commute by bike. The capital city is home to royal palaces, a statue of the Little Mermaid, penned by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, and Tivoli gardens. A country of 5.6 million, Denmark is small enough to explore in a semester, but full of treasures to keep students occupied throughout the term.

12. Computer Science: Canada

study computer science in Canada

Of the top 200 universities for computer science, eight are located in Canada. Topping Canada’s list are University of Toronto (pictured above), University of Waterloo, university of British Columbia and McGill University, located in Montreal.

The computer technology sector is booming in Canada, in particular in Toronto, the country’s largest city. In fact, Toronto is the third largest technology hub in North America. The city’s computer tech industry yields $52 billion in revenues annually and employs more than 200,000 people.

Apart from its world-class cities, Canada is known for its diverse natural landscapes, ranging from the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Colombia, to the rolling plains of Saskatchewan, to the rocky sea cliffs of Newfoundland and Labrador.

With the exception of the province of Quebec, English is the official language of Canada. The country is also quite culturally similar to the United States, making it an easier destination for students to adapt to. Its location just north of the United States makes it close to home, a positive factor for those students who may be going abroad alone for the first time. So, computer science buffs, consider Canada for study abroad.

13. Journalism: Melbourne, Australia

Study journalism in Australia

Melbourne is Australia’s second largest-city, meaning its home to a large collection of the country’s top businesses, brands and news-worthy headlines. The Age and Herald Sun, two of the country’s top daily newspapers, are based in Melbourne, and the city is also home to dozens of smaller newspaper and magazine publications as well as television news broadcasts.

With nine public universities, there’s no shortage of ways to study in Melbourne, and the fact that English is the official language, makes it easy for students from the United States to take courses and contribute to journalism outlets through writing and reporting (possibly as an intern?).

Communication and journalism studies are popular majors at many of the universities and several have student run publications that welcome contributing student writers and editors.

Melbourne is often hailed as one of the world’s most livable cities, and many visitors find it to be less touristy than Sydney. With charming laneways, historical monuments and zoos offering up-close encounters with some of Australia’s most dazzling species, the city is a great base for students to soak up the “Aussie” way of life and learn about a distinct culture.

Choosing Where to Study Abroad is an Exciting Adventure!

And there you have it -- the best study abroad destinations by major! Just remember, no matter where you chose to study abroad, going overseas is going to be a life-changing, eye-opening experience that will change your perspective.

Where you chose to go is a highly personal decision and there is no one right answer. Take your time deciding what country to study. Weigh all the options, listen to your heart, and enjoy the process. The world really is your oyster, and soon you’ll be off on an exciting adventure that will push your limits, broaden your horizons, and teach you more about yourself as a unique individual.

Next: look for programs or ask a question about study abroad.

Photo Credits: Florence, Oxford, Shanghai, Costa Rica, Lima, Peru, Christine Dietz (New Zealand), Korea.net, Melbourne, Gaby Chiha.
Lauren Salisbury

A California native, Lauren Salisbury has found the best way to get to know a region of the world is to live there, and with that in mind has worked in four countries, including the United States, Australia, Spain and Costa Rica. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and is now living in the Costa Rican rainforest, working as Social Media & Marketing Manager for Outward Bound. Lauren documents her travel adventures on her blog SomethingInHerRamblings.com.