Institute for Study Abroad

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.


The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988. Our primary goal is to provide quality study abroad opportunities, plus academic and personal support services, for qualified North American undergraduates seeking to earn academic credit through study abroad.

IFSA is organized to assist our students from the time they apply until after they return. Our staff in the U.S. prepare students for the academic and cultural changes that await them, and our offices around the world provide on-site support to help students make the most of their study abroad experiences.

IFSA currently operates programs in Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Peru, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Sri Lanka, and Wales.


6201 Corporate Drive
Suite 200
Indianapolis, IN 46278
United States


IFSA Scholarships
IFSA Scholarships and Financial Aid

We believe that study abroad should be within reach of every student, so we offer a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities for all our participants.

$500 - $2,500


Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

IFSA in Buenos Aires was a great program that really allowed me to engage with the city and the country. Class schedules were very flexible, and it was amazing being able to choose classes at 4 different universities. The add/drop period allowed me to try out multiple classes before settling on my schedule. In addition, IFSA organised trips to Tigre and Uruguay, guaranteeing city breaks and excursions. The staff at the office were also great whenever you had any problems. Overall it was a great program

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida- meaning pure life, is a popular slogan in Costa Rica which reflects the easy going and relaxed nature of the country.
This program was absolutely amazing. I felt I got to have a challenging academic experience at the Universidad Nacional as well as explore the Pura Vida side of Costa Rica. The direct enrollment lets you choose from a variety of classes. My program friends took classes that ranged from computer science, biology, gender studies, film, music, and psychology. The IFSA team also has connections to local programs if you are interested in volunteering at schools, vet offices, etc. They truly have the most wonderful staff who will go above and beyond to make your experience meaningful. You can fill the weekends traveling around the country (transportation is cheap and effective!), spending time with your host family, or exploring the city life in San José (be careful of pickpockets and thieves though). Overall however, it is a safe, peaceful country with kind, easygoing people.

Any concerns- As many Latin American countries, there is a culture of machismo which can result in a catcalling from men, but if you are logically cautious, it is not a problem.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
-Get yourself a good fanny pack- much more difficult to steal, and much easier to carry than purse.
-Do not flash wealth in busy places (lots of cash, a fancy purse), as there are unfortunately pickpocketers in the cities.
-Invest in a good lock (can be used for backpacks or suitcases), a sturdy backpack, portable charger, and a microfiber towel
-Protect your PHONE- This is so important because many travellers don't think about this. Take it out ONLY when you need to. In the middle of San Jose, I had my phone out in my hand looking at google maps. Someone pushed me from behind and grabbed it from my hands (I managed to get it back). Do NOT put it in your backpocket as my friend had her phone stolen from her like this.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I am a mechanical engineering student, so the liberal arts courses offered were outside of what I was used to studying. This was a great way for me to expand my horizons and learn some new things. The professors and staff on this program are all amazing. The program size is usually small, so you get to know your classmates super well. The homestay component is really amazing. There are also opportunities to learn art/dance/music forms and perform in the closing ceremony. There is time to travel independently, and the staff even helped us arrange weekend trips to nearby cities. I completed a full-time engineering internship the last month of this program in the prosthetics center of a very large hospital. I would recommend this program for anyone looking to go well outside their comfort zones.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The city is safe, but the program has restrictions to really ensure the safety of the students. There are some rules that American students may not be used to, like curfews, but these are set out of respect for your host family as well as for your own safety. This program is probably not suited for those who love to know everything about what is going on at all times, as there is a lot of going with the flow and taking things as they come. For the flexible, easygoing traveler, this program is great.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Shanghai was full of unique experiences and fun memories! It was the perfect mix of learning and adventure. Being able to explore the city while learning about the culture and history of China deepened and expanded my experience even more. The IFSA staff were supportive and always willing to help students navigate life in China. I had incredible opportunities like an internship with a local non-profit, an organized trip to western provinces, and guided adventures around the city to museums and other historical sites.

What would you improve about this program?
The classes are all with fellow American students - so you have to make an extra effort to find other creative ways to engage with the local students.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

IFSA staff at Lima, Peru was super friendly and helped me with all of my questions regarding academics, health, good places to visit/eat, safety, how to use the public transportation, and etc. I loved how intentional each programming was, focusing on different aspects of the local culture, such as sustainability, history of Peru, and different social issues, such as racism, gender inequality, education, and etc. All the friends that I've met during this semester were great, and we still keep in touch even today.


Displaying 1 - 9 of 42
Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Study Abroad Programs in Australia
9.25 •20 reviews

Only in Australia will you find an irresistible combination of rugged...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Argentine Universities Program
8.79 •19 reviews

Located in one of the world's most exciting and cosmopolitan cities...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Study Abroad Programs in Ireland
9.59 •17 reviews

Come study abroad in the Republic of Ireland with IFSA! Six different...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Study Abroad Programs in New Zealand
New Zealand
8.94 •16 reviews

Top-notch academics meet exquisite natural beauty and Maori culture in...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: University of Edinburgh Partnership
9.67 •15 reviews

Hallo agus fàilte! Study abroad amid beauty, history and friendliness...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: University College London Partnership
9 •8 reviews

If you are looking to immerse yourself in a city that is a melting pot...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
8.86 •7 reviews

IFSA and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) have...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Universidad Nacional Partnership
Costa Rica
9.43 •7 reviews

Come study abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica with IFSA at Universidad...

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
IFSA: Study Abroad Programs in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
10 •7 reviews

IFSA welcomes students to study abroad in Northern Ireland next summer...

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Adrianna C. Perry

Adrianna is junior at Providence College studying Elementary and Special Education. She believes that experiencing teaching/education systems in other countries is the best way to become a well-rounded educator, and hopes to live in a country outside of the U.S.A upon graduation for undergrad.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I loved the idea of attending a university that focused solely on teacher training. In the United States, and at my school specifically, there is a core curriculum, so it is not possible to take classes that are solely focused on your major. All of my courses in Northern Ireland were about taking the skills learned, and bringing them into the classroom as an educator. I also think that teaching in a country outside of your own and experiencing a different culture makes you a more well-rounded individual and teacher.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My school held information sessions to give an overview of the program options for education majors, as well as rundown of the programs themselves. Once we applied for, and were approved for our chosen program, the education department and study abroad office hosted a more in-depth info session where we were able to talk to and ask questions of the previous year's participants.

Prior to my arrival, IFSA had a pre-departure webinar series that we received via email to prepare us for our trip. We were also given an orientation by IFSA staff in Belfast, over the course of our first few days in Northern Ireland.

We were in charge of booking our own flights and filling out documentation for our visas. It is super important to start both of these tasks as soon as possible, because for booking flights you definitely want to research for the best deal (student travel organizations are not always cheapest). Depending on the type of visa required, you may have a lot of questions as I did, and visas take a long time to process once submitted, so it is important to get started as soon as you receive instructions so that your provider is able to assist you in this process.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Research, research, research! Most people do not know much of the history of the country/city that they are about to enter. In my case, many people I spoke to did not know that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are separate countries. I myself did not know the implications of the separation between the two countries, and how the effects of conflict in Northern Ireland trickled down into their current government, education systems, and culture. While I learned so much while I was abroad, I wish I had done my own background research before my arrival, as it would have made me feel more comfortable engaging in discussion with the people I would meet.

To anyone that is thinking of going overseas, I would say definitely do it, because it is such an incredible opportunity that you may never get again after leaving college. Even if you do not do a lot of traveling to other countries outside of your host country, take the opportunity to explore and immerse yourself in the area you are in. Talk to people who have gone to your chosen location before, in order to get tips and tricks on residing in your host country, what to bring, the best ways to travel within the country, etc. Other students are your best resource, so use them!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Classes are scheduled a little bit differently than they are in the US, you may have a class two days in a row, and it is normal to have a class that is 2 or 3 hours, whereas in the US these would be considered "marathon" classes that you would be unlikely to have more than one of in a semester. Classes may also change times or rooms depending on the needs of the school, another thing that does not usually happen in the US without advance notice, so it's something to keep in mind when heading to class each day.

There is usually an hour in the middle of the day where no classes are scheduled so that everyone has time to grab lunch. Outside of reading, there will not be as many physical assignments to hand in throughout the semester, so take this time to go to the events Stranmillis puts on, or get involved in one of their clubs (keep in mind that the end of term papers do sneak up on you, so get started as soon as you can).

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going abroad was the length of time that I would be away. I had traveled for extended periods of time before, and I live at school when it is in session, but I had never been gone for an entire three months without seeing my family.

I was nervous that it would be really difficult for me. I would say that I overcame this by spending lots of time with the other students in my flat. We spent a lot of time exploring Belfast, which allowed us to feel much more comfortable where we were, and confident in our ability to navigate the city. If anything, I now wish I had spent more time exploring alone, as I am pretty independent and like to take time to decompress away from others.

What was the most rewarding part of your experience?

The most rewarding part of my experience was getting to teach at Dundonald Primary School every Wednesday. I had a wonderful class of eager students who had so many questions for me about the US, and answered so many of my questions about their country and customs. My cooperating teacher was happy to have me help out, and allowed me to jump in leading small groups and working with individual students right away.

This was my first time teaching solo, and for a full day, and my confidence in my ability to be a good teacher was boosted. I learned so much about the differences in their education system, and have so much respect for the teachers in Northern Ireland. Many schools do not have separate teachers for all of the specials; this was true for my school and my teacher was responsible for leading art, music and gym, even when those may not have been her favorite things to do.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Sian Munro

Job Title
Resident Director, New Zealand Programmes
Sian began her international education career 17 years ago at the University of Otago, welcoming new students while undertaking Masters’ research into the impact of international students on domestic students. A move to the UK for 2.5 years working for AIFS in London on gap year programmes, travel in the UK, Europe and a summer camp in the US followed, Sian returned to Otago in International Student Support before joining IFSA 7 years ago.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My time abroad was spent working and traveling with my closest friends. We learned so much about the world, ourselves and each other. I cherish the experiences we had even the not so great ones. Next year we are reuniting in Bali for another adventure!

One memorable trip was staying in Dubrovnik, renting a room in someone’s home. Our host recounted the siege of the centuries-old city from December 1991. Her family hid in a cupboard for days, which must have been terrifying. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, made all the more stunning because of the tenacity of the people to rebuild, attract visitors back and be warm and welcoming hosts.

When I returned to New Zealand after 2.5 years overseas, the Immigration Officer gave me back my passport and said, “welcome home”. It was lovely to be home with a newfound desire to explore my own backyard.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

In my role, I have become more aware of the unique place Aotearoa New Zealand has in the world, particularly when compared to a country as globally influential as the USA. I get to see my country through the eyes of students who are brand new to it and eager to dive into our culture and explore as many opportunities as possible.

While our organization has a vast geographical footprint, IFSA is an extremely collaborative workplace. IFSA colleagues share their knowledge of our field relating to best practice, research, and media reports. More significantly, opportunities and challenges facing our students and how we can most effectively connect with and support our students. As a result, I am constantly learning and growing as an international education professional committed to enriching the lives of our students while they are onsite, knowing it will have an enduring impact on them.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

We had a student who developed an interest in cycling after riding a few trails during their semester in New Zealand. When the student returned to the US, this interest became a passion and she joined a not-for-profit organization fundraising and cycling across the US to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. We were fortunate enough that she became an IFSA student ambassador once she returned to her home campus until she graduated.

A couple of years later, she returned to New Zealand and worked for us as a Student Services Coordinator for a year on a working holiday visa. We see and hear lots of great stories from alumni by being connected on social media, but this was a great example of a study abroad experience going full circle!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Having the privilege of knowing the amazing impact all our wonderful Resident Directors and onsite staff have on our students in Latin America, the UK, and Europe, Asia and Australasia, it’s a very difficult choice!

I would definitely select somewhere I have never been before and a location completely different from the small city of Dunedin I live in, where a quarter of the 130,000 population are students and the climate is temperate. This would mean going to a country like India or China with a large population and a completely different climate, language, culture and cuisine.

The IFSA programmes in Pune and Shanghai explore these locations in a contemporary context which would be of significant interest to me as a social anthropology graduate.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

There is a beautiful Māori proverb which says,

"He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata."

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.

I have a fantastic team who enrich our programmes by fostering a strong sense of community and take an individual approach to our student’s learning abroad both inside and outside the classroom.

Our staff all have different topics we present on at orientation which we break up by enjoying outdoor activities in a beautiful open-air eco-sanctuary. I was at the hospital with a student and was not going to make it back in time for one of the briefings I am responsible for. Our team divvied up the briefing and familiarised themselves with their sections. I returned in time to see them do a fantastic job of presenting it!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

From my perspective IFSA’s success comes from having a clear Mission, Vision and Commitments to underpin all the work staff worldwide undertake; from advising students about our programme offerings, working with our academic partners and operators in the US and our 19 programme countries, assisting students through the application and pre-arrival process, orientation, onsite support and programme delivery in both the academic setting as well as extra-curricular activities. While the Mission, Vision and Commitments might not be explicit to every student, as an organisation we have infused them into our programmes in a deliberate and meaningful way.

Professional Associations