“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine
Hope to study abroad?
You’ve made a great choice. Studying abroad benefits you academically, personally, and professionally.
As an article published by Northeastern University attests, the benefits of studying abroad abound. You can improve fluency in a second language, expand your learning skills, enhance your network, learn about new cultures and perspectives, and build your confidence. And you’ll have a ton of fun. Imagine relaxing on the beach after a day of study!
Studying abroad impresses employers too. 60% of companies place importance on international study and 67% of recruiters want candidates with intercultural knowledge.
Given how great the experience can be, you definitely want to plan your adventure correctly. That begins with choosing the right destination.
In this guide, we’ll cover the best places to study abroad across the world.
How We Selected the Best Countries to Study Abroad
To compile our list of the 25 best places to study abroad, we looked at a variety of data, including:
- We examined study abroad data to see which destinations are most popular. For example, students from the USA most commonly study abroad in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
- We analyzed and compared search data for study abroad destinations. For instance, “study abroad in Japan” and “study abroad in Spain” receive a lot of searches. These two destinations make the list too!
- We read over expert guides on studying abroad. This gave insight into what programs and destinations offer the best academic and social experiences.
- We looked at the number of study abroad programs available. More programs ensure more students can find something suitable. Countries like Italy, Costa Rica, and China have an incredible amount of academic opportunities for foreign students.
- We included a diverse array of destinations. As a guide in The Princeton Review attests, “each student charts a different path.” While you may wish to study abroad in Australia, your friend may want to study abroad in Mexico. While you may want to study a foreign language abroad, your classmate may wish to study international business.
For each country, we’ll detail the best study abroad programs there, being certain to include different areas of study.
The World’s Best Places to Study Abroad for 2020
Whether you’re looking for the best places to study abroad in Europe or Asia, you’ll find options below. Read on!
Note: This list details the best countries to study abroad in no particular order.
Why Study Abroad in France
In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “Paris is always a good idea.” Food, history, art, nature, romance…France delights at every turn. No wonder it’s consistently the most visited country in the world and one of the top study abroad destinations.
As a key player on the world stage, studying abroad in France is a good idea not only for anyone interested in the culture, but also any student looking to compete in the global economy. Study French, international politics, world history, and more.
Best Study Abroad Programs in France
French Language Program in Lyon, France: Founded by the Romans in the 1st century BCE, Lyon has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given the city’s historic and cultural significance, the atmosphere here benefits studying the French language. Immerse yourself in Lyon’s rich culture as you make friends and speak French all day, every day. Lyon is also a culinary paradise. Get ready to eat!
- Tuition: $2,895 for 4 weeks $8,945 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: Frontier began in 1989 and has become a leader in volunteer, intern, and study abroad adventures. They’ve placed more than 103,000 people in programs abroad.
Ski Instructor Course in Tignes, France: Want to become a ski instructor? You can study and get certified through this program in Tignes, a ski resort area in the French Alps. Train with top ski professionals and gain professional references to find work after your study. The program includes BASI Level 1 and BASI Level 2 Ski Instructor courses.
- Tuition: $13,645 for 10 weeks
- About the Organization: Frontier also offers this course. In additional to traditional study abroad programs in France, Frontier takes you off-the-beaten-path with real-world learning experiences. If you want to build a career in skiing, choose this course in Tignes.
Why Study Abroad in Japan
As a travel guide in Lonely Planet notes, “Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.” Along with bustling cities and tranquil villages, Japan boasts gorgeous mountains and beaches,
Additionally, Japan plays a vital role as the world’s third-largest economy. According to McKinsey research, Tokyo is one of the most economically powerful cities in the world (pdf). Whether you’re majoring in Japanese or finance, going here makes sense.
Best Study Abroad Program in Japan
Business and Media Internship in Tokyo, Japan: Head to Tokyo, where you’ll engage in reciprocal learning while interning with a local business. If you want hands-on study in your field of expertise, select this program. Intern Abroad HQ has placements for all majors, from business to marketing to graphic design.
- Tuition: from $1,230 for 4 weeks
- About the Organization: This program is offered by Intern Abroad HQ, a leader in internships abroad. They specialize in providing valuable learning experiences in important cities. If you want to improve your career readiness and employability, study abroad in Japan through an Intern Abroad HQ program.
Why Study Abroad in Costa Rica
Can you find a more perfect destination? With amazing biodiversity, Costa Rica leads the way in sustainable tourism. From rainforest hikes to world-class surfing, adventure awaits wherever you go (on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts!). No wonder international tourism to Costa Rica continues to rise.
With a fast-growing economy and high-quality of living, Costa Rica is a safe, fun, and rewarding place for international study. Whether you want to study Spanish, do environmental research, or learn about eco-agriculture, you’ll find plenty of great programs.
Best Study Abroad Programs in Costa Rica
University Abroad Programs in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: Make your way to Manuel Antonio, an area known for its rainforests, beaches, and laid-back lifestyle. And gain academic credit by taking a course in your preferred area of study. Maximo Nivel offers courses in numerous fields, including Anthropology and Sociology, International Business, Education, Environmental Studies, and Health and Medicine.
- Tuition: $7,495 for a semester in Manuel Antonio
- About the Organization: These programs are offered by Maximo Nivel, a leading provider of study abroad programs in Latin America. Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel offers affordable tuition, excellent staff support, and practical learning experiences. You’ll earn university credits through California State University – Monterey Bay and/or local universities.
Spanish Immersion in San Jose, Costa Rica: Hola! Want to master your Spanish? Maximo Nivel customizes Spanish immersion courses so that you can learn efficiently and reach your language goals. You’ll learn from a certified, native Spanish teacher. The program takes learning beyond the classroom, with authentic in-country language immersion. Test your Spanish skills as you explore sites in San Jose, like the National Museum of Costa Rica and Central Market.
- Tuition: $615 for four weeks in San Jose; $690 for 4 weeks in Manuel Antonio
- About the Organization: Also offered by Maximo Nivel, this Spanish language program allows you to learn in a personalized manner. Work with a Spanish language partner, take traditional university Spanish courses, do intensive small group classes, and more. Even better, Maximo Nivel has affordable tuition.
Why Study Abroad in South Africa
South Africa puts it all on the table. As one of Africa’s best safari destinations, the country has all sorts of outdoor adventure. See the Big 5 in Kruger National Park! Indeed, when it comes to wildlife and conservation study abroad programs, few destinations compare. Beyond the great outdoors, South Africa, as Africa’s second-largest economy, has many valuable study abroad opportunities in fields like finance, education, and medicine.
An incredibly resilient country, South Africa has overcome apartheid, but hurdles to a fair and equal society remain. If you wish to study law and human rights, international development, or journalism, you’ll find lots of programs where you can learn and even make a positive impact. The overall diversity of academic coursework makes South Africa one of the best countries to study abroad.
Best Study Abroad Programs in South Africa
Nutrition Internship in Cape Town, South Africa: Are you a medical, nursing, or nutrition student? Put what you’re learning in the classroom to real-world use in this program. Duties include doing health checks, hosting nutrition workshops, and preparing nutritious meals. You’ll learn what it takes to prevent diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles. For this study abroad program, you’ll live, work, and study in Cape Town, a world-class city with historical sites like Robben Island and natural gems like Table Mountain.
- Tuition: $4,155 for 4 weeks; $7,315 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: Projects Abroad has been around for more than 25 years and has sent more than 115,000 people on volunteer, intern, and study abroad programs. They receive high ratings for their commitment to high standards of safety and support, as well as their immersive experiences. That’s why publications like Time and CNN have featured Projects Abroad.
Diving Course in Muizenberg, South Africa: Whether you want to work as a scuba diving instructor or perform marine research, this study abroad program suits you (and it’s a ton of fun!). You’ll obtain PADI scuba certification as you live with other students near Muizenberg, a hot spot for surfers, divers, and beach-lovers. And you’ll be on your way to a career beneath the water!
- Tuition: $1,066 for 7 days
- About the Organization: With a firm focus on ethical volunteering, Via Volunteers specializes in meaningful volunteer and study abroad experiences in South Africa. All programs have been vetted to ensure exceptional quality and safety. Given their commitment, it’s not surprising Via Volunteers gets high ratings from past volunteers (99 5-star ratings on Volunteer Forever).
55-Day Field Guide Course in Kruger National Park, South Africa: Dream of becoming a field guide? Earn your FGASA Level 1 qualification on this accredited course. You’ll learn how to conduct bush walks, handle firearms, track animals, navigate through remote areas, and more. You’ll also get to live in one of the most beautiful and remote areas of Kruger National Park. How awesome is that?
- Tuition: Inquire here about pricing
- About the Organization: Through volunteer projects and learning programs, Naturally Africa Volunteers makes sustainable contributions to communities across Africa. Naturally Africa Volunteers is known for their great local staff, 24/7 support, and commitment to responsible travel. If you want to learn about being a field guide, this program will teach you the essentials.
Why Study Abroad in Thailand
Thailand stimulates the senses like nowhere else. From the busy streets of Bangkok to the beauty of Phuket to the jungles of Chiang Mai, you’ll be wowed. Already imagining yourself there? We don’t blame you.
Thailand is among the best places to study abroad not only because the country is fun and welcoming, but you can also learn a lot, whether you want to study Buddhism or Thai. Thailand is also Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, and will play an increasingly important role in the world. Studying abroad here will certainly bring you many benefits.
Best Study Abroad Programs in Thailand
Learn, Volunteer, and Travel in Sing Buri, Thailand: Seek a more adventurous study abroad experience? Experience authentic Thai culture as you explore Sing Buri, a central province in Thailand. You can do a Thai culture week, where you’ll study the Thai language, practice Thai cooking, and learn about Buddhist traditions. In addition to study and travel, you’ll volunteer on construction or teaching projects during the program.
- Tuition: $1,210 for 4 weeks; $2,090 for 8 weeks
- About the Organization: A leader in ecotourism and educational travel, GoEco has been featured in publications like The Guardian and Boston Globe. Founded in 2006, GoEco has placed more than 17,000 volunteers, students, and travelers in programs abroad.
Coastal Marine Conservation in Phang Nga, Thailand: Journey to Phang Nga, a province home to some of Thailand’s most famous beaches. There, you’ll assist with research and conservation efforts to help protect green sea turtles. You’ll monitor turtles, do hands-on fieldwork, educate the local community, and more.
- Tuition: $2,280 for 4 weeks; $4,240 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: This program is also offered by GoEco. Because of great research initiatives like these, GoEco has been named a 2017 Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch. If you want to study abroad in Thailand in science, environmental conservation, or related field, put GoEco at the top of your list.
Medical Internship in Bangkok, Thailand: Shadow a supervising physician and help provide essential medical care to disadvantaged people in Bangkok. Through this program, you’ll learn in a hands-on manner. The practical experience abroad will certainly boost your resume and improve your cross-cultural competency. During free time, learn Thai and dive into Bangkok, a bustling city with beautiful Buddhist temples, world-class nightlife, and great shopping and dining. Check out Chatuchak Weekend Market and The Grand Palace.
- Tuition: $1,559 for 4 weeks; $4,019 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: Love Volunteers receives a 96% rating from past program participants, thanks to their affordability, transparency, and commitment to quality. Love Volunteers provides rewarding volunteer and intern abroad opportunities around the globe. Their medical internship in Thailand is particularly popular, and an excellent study abroad choice if you major in healthcare.
Why Study Abroad in Spain
Many international students see Spain as one of the best places to study abroad in Europe. For American students, it’s among the most popular. That’s because Spain is passionate, sophisticated, and devoted to living well. Diverse landscapes, culinary masterpieces, legendary art, and all those fiestas immerse you in the present every step of the way. And when you need to relax, simply take a siesta!
Studying abroad in Spain is a great choice if you want to learn Spanish (of course!). You’ll find programs across nearly every field, including hospitality and tourism, international business, European studies, art history, and more.
Best Study Abroad Programs in Spain
Creative Technologies Project in Barcelona, Spain: If you major in digital marketing, communications, graphic design, website development, or a related field, this program is calling your name. Get real-world experience as you help NGOs build their web presence and boost their charity initiatives. During free time, take additional Spanish language lessons and enjoy Barcelona, a city home to delicious tapas and architectural treasures (check out Antoni Gaudí’s works!).
- Tuition: $1,780 for 4 weeks; $4,860 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) began in 2007 and is the world’s most trusted volunteer abroad organization. IVHQ has placed more than 108,000 volunteers, students, and travelers abroad. Major institutions like UCLA, Northwestern University, and the University of Florida have all sent students on programs with IVHQ.
Spanish Language Lessons and Volunteering in Madrid, Spain: Journey to Madrid, where you can take Spanish language lessons as you volunteer for the local community. You can volunteer in agriculture, special needs support, childcare, and education. Your volunteer time is also a great opportunity to practice your Spanish. When you’re not busy, Madrid, with sites like Retiro Park and The Prado Museum, awaits.
- Tuition: from $720 for 2 weeks
- About the Organization: This program is also offered by International Volunteer HQ. Past volunteers and students praise IVHQ’s programs in Spain. As Allison, a former participant, attested: “I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. My placement was amazing.”
Why Study Abroad in China
The Middle Kingdom—with 5,000 years of history, stunning nature, and incredible skyscrapers—amazes. In China, ancient temples sit alongside futuristic bullet trains. You can eat dishes that have been around for millennia—as you watch cars zig and zag through town. Expect your eyes to stay open!
China, as the world’s second-largest economy and most populous nation, has emerged as a global powerhouse in the 21st century. This makes the country one of the best places to study abroad. Spending a semester or year here will make you more attractive to potential employers, especially if you learn Mandarin, gain business experience, and immerse yourself in Chinese culture.
Best Study Abroad Programs in China
Chinese Language Lessons in Yantai, China: Travel to Yantai, a port city in Shandong Province that’s known for its sea views, mountains, and the Zhangyu Wine Cultural Museum. You’ll learn Mandarin Chinese through classroom instruction, Chinese cultural lessons, and daily immersion activities, such as sightseeing and language exchange. This Chinese immersion program integrates all aspects of language learning: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
- Tuition: $2,290 for 4 weeks; $4,290 for 8 weeks
- About the Organization: A Broader View runs volunteer and study abroad programs in more than 25 countries. They provide safe and reliable accommodation, 24/7 support, and customized study opportunities. A Broader View is a top-rated nonprofit organization.
Mandarin Service Adventure in Shaxi, China: This is one of the best study abroad programs in China for teens and high school students. You’ll reside in Shaxi, a historic market town in Yunnan Province. The Mandarin language program includes daily classes and language exchange with locals. You’ll get to practice your Mandarin during immersion activities, such as working on a family farm and shopping at a farmers’ market. You’ll travel a lot too. Highlights include a trip to Naigu Stone Forest and hiking the Great Wall.
- NOTE! This study abroad program is designed for high school students and teens.
- Tuition: $5,499 for 21 days
- About the Organization: Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) takes learning off the beaten path. Their programs combine travel, volunteering, and learning in a powerful way. GLA aims to empower high school students and teens to discover other cultures and have life-changing learning experiences.
Internships in Shanghai, China: An internship in China could strengthen your academic resume and help you stand out after graduation. Projects Abroad has numerous international internships in Shanghai, a world center of finance, business, and technology. Internship programs include: Medicine Internship, Journalism Internship, Business Internship, and Law Internship.
- Tuition: Varies; from $3,500+ for 4 weeks to $7,115+ for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: Projects Abroad has run volunteer, intern, and study abroad programs for more than 25 years. Their professional programs in China offer university students a great chance to learn more about their academic subjects and get real-world experience.
Why Study Abroad in Peru
You can have an experience unlike any other in Peru. Explore Machu Picchu, learn about Quechua culture, go surfing, taste the world-famous cuisine, and see alpacas. Sounds like fun, right?
Simply put, Peru has everything a traveler could need. This makes the country one of the top study abroad destinations. For students going to Peru, you can find a program that suits your academic interests, whether you major in Spanish, history, environmental conservation, or tourism and hospitality.
Best Study Abroad Programs in Peru
University Abroad Programs in Cusco, Peru: Go to Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes that once served as the capital of the Inca Empire. There, you can take courses and earn academic credit through Maximo Nivel. Subjects include: International Business, Education, Health and Medicine, Veterinary and Animal Science, and Spanish Language (customized to suit your level and goals).
Note: The 14-week programs consists of two Spanish language courses and two general education courses (or specialized coursework if you’re a Junior or Senior). You’ll also do service learning or an international internship.
- Tuition: $4,995 for a semester
- About the Organization: Maximo Nivel began in 2003 and is a leading study abroad provider in Peru. Their partner university in Cusco is located just three blocks from Plaza de Armas.
Amazon Conservation Project in Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru: Looking for more adventure? Trek deep into the Amazon Rainforest and study the wonderful biodiversity of Manu National Park. You’ll contribute to key research and conservation efforts along the way. And you’ll learn what it takes to be a conservationist.
- Tuition: $2,195 for 4 weeks; $5,995 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: As a registered UK charity, Globalteer oversees projects in nine countries and is committed to maintaining high ethical standards. Their conservation volunteer programs teach you a lot. You’ll undergo rigorous training that will teach you how to live responsibly in the rainforest and effectively implement conservation strategies.
Why Study Abroad in Ghana
Oh, the things you can do in Ghana! Walk around the bustling capital of Accra, savor Ghanaian cuisine, play soccer with the locals, tour Kakum National Park, and relax on the beaches. Indeed, Ghana is a gem of West Africa, and a great destination for a life-changing semester abroad.
With a growing economy and vibrant democracy, Ghana has emerged as one of the best countries to study abroad. The country boasts plenty of incredible academic programs for international students, from history, education, and international development courses to internships across every field.
Best Study Abroad Programs in Ghana
Turtle Conservation and Ecotourism Project in the West Coast of Ghana: Interested in environmental and wildlife conservation? Then head to Ghana’s West Coast and contribute to turtle conservation. As a research volunteer, you’ll study, monitor, and protect sea turtle nests, as well as help with educational outreach. You’ll stay at a guesthouse and learn about sustainable tourism practices. And when you’re not busy, enjoy the palm-lined beaches.
- Tuition: Inquire here about pricing
- About the Organization: Naturally Africa Volunteers specializes in volunteer projects and learning experiences in Africa. Naturally Africa Volunteers partners with wonderful local staff and provides 24/7 support wherever you go.
International Internships in Accra, Ghana: Want to gain professional experience in your field of study? Then consider internships abroad with Global Vision International (GVI). In Accra, you can do the following internships:
- Women’s Economic Empowerment and Vocational Training
- International Development Internship
- Teaching Internship
When you’re not working and learning, enjoy Accra, a city filled with historical and cultural sites, beaches, and entertainment. Check out Makola Market and Labadi Beach!
- Tuition: Most internships start from $421 per week; the longer you intern, the lower the per week price.
- About the Organization: Global Vision International (GVI) began in 1998 with a focus on addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. GVI partners with many prominent organizations, including Save the Children, Panthera, and the World Wildlife Fund. If you seek high-quality internships in Ghana that address key issues, mark GVI as a top choice.
Mental Health and Psychology Program in Kumasi, Ghana: Majoring in psychology or psychiatry? During this program, you can study mental health, psychology, and psychiatry within a hospital setting. You’ll see firsthand how mental health professionals in Ghana deal with staff shortages and stigmas around mental health. You’ll also learn how various conditions are treated, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism.
- Tuition: $894 for 4 weeks; $1,734 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) is known for their affordable and trusted volunteer and study abroad programs. An award-winning organization with more than 10 years of experience and expertise, PMGY provides excellent support and sees that you learn as much as possible while traveling abroad.
Why Study Abroad in Italy
Giuseppe Verdi, the opera composer, stated it best: “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
Italy inspires and moves you like no other place. It’s home to legendary art, architecture, and food. The Roman empire rose and fell in Italy. The Renaissance was born here. And through all of that history, spectacular landscapes remain.
Today, Italy holds an important global role. The country belongs to the G-7, a group of the world’s largest developed economies. And Italy stands as one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. No wonder it’s one of the best places to study abroad in Europe and the world.
Best Study Abroad Programs in Italy
Italian Language and Volunteer Program in Naples, Italy: Learn Italian as you explore Naples and volunteer. Service projects include teaching English, after-school care, and environmental cleanup. While volunteering, you can practice your Italian! And when you’re not studying, tour sites in Naples, like Mount Vesuvius and Ovo Castle, and eat all the Neapolitan pizza you can!
- Tuition: from $1,175 for 4 weeks; $3,015 for 12 weeks
- About the Organization: International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) has placed more than 108,000 volunteers and students since 2007, including students from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan. With affordable fees and programs in more than 40+ destinations, they lead the way in international volunteering and learning experiences.
Italian Language Program in Bologna, Italy: Learn Italian in Bologna, a city known for its food culture, awesome towers, terracotta-tiled roofs, and historical attractions, like Neptune Fountain and Seven Churches of Santo Stefano. Simply put, if you want to immerse yourself in Italian culture as you learn this fantastic language, there are few better places than Bologna.
- Tuition: $2,045 for 4 weeks; $4,095 for 8 weeks
- About the Organization: Frontier has run volunteer, gap year, and study abroad adventures since 1989. In Italy, Frontier partners with local language schools to guarantee an immersive, high-quality learning experience.
Liveaboard Dolphin Research in Ischia, Italy: Passionate about dolphins? Go to the idyllic island of Ischia, where you’ll sail along the coastline and contribute to dolphin research and conservation efforts. You’ll study dolphin behavior, record bioacoustics, steer the boat, and photograph the dolphins. Ready for life at sea?
- Tuition: $2,790 for 3 weeks
- About the Organization: As a leading ecotourism company, GoEco has lots of learning opportunities for those majoring in environmental studies, animal science, biology, and related fields. Their dolphin research program in Italy will teach you a lot about marine conservation research.
Have the Study Abroad Trip of a Lifetime!
Now you know all about the best places to study abroad, from the Americas and Europe to Africa and Asia. When choosing among the best countries to study abroad, consider your major, preferences, and budget. With careful consideration, you’ll find the right academic program. And you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
For help with choosing a program, paying tuition, and more, look at our other study abroad resources:
A Guide to Study Abroad Programs
So, are you ready? All that’s left to do is apply to a program and go.
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.