Short-term Study Abroad Programs

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Short-term Study Abroad Programs

Short-term Study Abroad Programs

Guide to short-term study abroad programs

If you don’t have the time or resources to commit to a semester or year, consider a short-term study abroad program! These experiences range from days to weeks and can be the perfect solution to your busy schedule.

Discover great short-term programs during summer or J-term sessions and fulfill your dream of studying abroad!

Types of short-term study abroad programs

There are different types of short-term study abroad programs available. Knowing your options can help you find the best fit.


These short-term programs carry the advantage of guaranteeing academic credit at your home university. Study abroad programs through your university can include groups led by faculty members or independent exchanges with overseas partner universities. Short-term university-led programs are often offered during the summer term or winter break.

Third-party program providers

Program providers arrange study abroad experiences for students that go beyond academics. Students who study abroad through program providers have everything arranged for them, from room and board to weekend excursions and cultural events. Costs for third-party providers tend to be higher than for university-sponsored programs and direct enrollment but for many students, the support and help with things like visas are well worth the extra costs.

Direct enrollment

Direct enrollment is the process of applying to your university of choice abroad and enrolling as an independent student without the help of your home university or a third-party program. Direct enrollment students pay tuition to the overseas institution which often leads to savings in countries where the cost of university study is low.

Language schools

Many independent language schools abroad run their own courses. As a result, courses don’t offer college or university credit but instead offer flexible class schedules and the opportunity to participate in activities like wine tasting, kayaking, or ceramics. These study abroad sessions would be ideal for people who may not be in school but are still interested in expanding their global horizons.

Popular countries for short-term study abroad

Although you can find short-term study abroad in countries all over the world, some options are more popular than others due to the things they offer.

  • Costa Rica: Whether you want to learn Spanish or study abroad in English while experiencing the local culture, Costa Rica is a top destination for short-term study abroad students. With pristine beaches lining both the eastern and western coastlines, the land of “Pura Vida” is great for anyone who loves the water, is interested in marine science, or just wants to brush up on their Spanish in the sun.
  • England: England is an extremely accessible short-term study abroad option for a number of reasons. Its size means you can comfortably pack in a ton of travel alongside your studies and being an English-speaking country means you can do it comfortably. Popular short-term programs in England include literature, history, and the arts.
  • Spain: Students from all over the world flock to Spain in the summer to soak up the sun, sample the food, and practice their language skills. Even if you don’t speak Spanish though, there are plenty of opportunities to study in English while still benefitting from the cultural activities and history that Spain has to offer.

How to apply for short-term study abroad programs

While requirements may vary depending on the school, program, and location, these are generally the steps you’ll need to follow to apply for short-term study abroad programs.

  1. Research programs and universities. After picking a country, evaluate programs for things like cost and if they meet your educational goals. Deciding whether to go with your university, a third-party provider, or enroll directly is also an important consideration when researching opportunities.
  2. Prepare your application materials. You will likely need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement to demonstrate your suitability for studying abroad.
  3. Apply for a visa. Depending on your country of citizenship, study abroad destination, and program length, you may or may not actually need a visa. For example, for most programs in Europe, US students do not need a visa, since it’s not required for study programs under 90 days.

Cost and funding

Short-term study abroad is typically more affordable than semester or year programs. Read on to learn more about average tuition costs and the funding available for short-term study abroad programs.

Average costs of tuition

Tuition prices can vary widely by country and length but we’ll outline a broad range of costs. Direct enrollment costs for tuition only can range from as little as $500 to $2,000 USD while programs run by third-party providers average around $3,000 to $5,000 USD.

If you intend to study abroad through your university, talk to your study abroad advisor to discuss the costs and options.


Study abroad funding isn’t just available for long-term programs. Short-term students can benefit from both scholarships and need-based grants. You can find scholarships based on a variety of things such as your field of study, your chosen destination, and even your personal background.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long are short-term study abroad programs?

    The most common short-term study abroad options last about two to three weeks. Generally, students looking for short-term opportunities study overseas anywhere from as little as two weeks to as long as eight weeks.

  • How do I choose a short-term study abroad program?

    Once you choose a country, explore programs available to you through your university and third-party providers. You may also want to consider direct enrollment.

  • What are the benefits of studying abroad for a short amount of time?

    Short-term study abroad programs are more affordable than traditional options and can be a better fit for students with less flexible schedules. Short-term programs can also be attractive to students who want to give studying abroad a try before committing to a longer duration.

  • What are the most popular places for short-term programs?

    Countries like England, Spain, and Costa Rica are popular options for short-term study abroad. For US students, destinations in Western Europe and Latin America are close to home while still offering unique and exciting experiences.