Choosing a Program

Programs differ in structure, content, and intensity across summer, semester, and academic year terms. Summer programs tend to be fast-paced and intense, with students only taking one or two courses in a matter of weeks. Many summer programs will focus on a particular field of study or have a theme. There are also a number of full-time summer internship programs. 

Students have more access to additional funding opportunities on semester and academic year programs than they typically do for summer. Longer duration programs also tend to be more cost effective as students can use existing financial aid and scholarships toward program fees. 

Semester programs give students additional time to integrate into the local culture, explore their host city and country independently, and enroll full-time in an entire semester’s worth of courses. Some programs may focus on a specific academic discipline or offer experiential opportunities as a component of the program. Many semester students return feeling like they had just gotten comfortable with the culture and/or the language. 

Our Academic Year programs provide students the time to achieve greater levels of immersion in the local culture. These programs often include enrolling in a local university, living with host families or local students, and for non-English speaking countries taking coursework in the native language. 

Browse programs by term.

If you wish to pursue immersive language study abroad, it can quickly narrow your options. To maximize language acquisition, language learners should seek programs with courses taught in the foreign language and options to live with native speakers. These programs often require 4-6 semesters of college level language courses (or equivalent proficiency as demonstrated by placement exam). Students should plan to meet the minimum requirements by the time they go abroad through careful course selection. 

Other programs in non-English speaking countries may require some or no previous language study. Often, these programs include taking a language course while you are abroad in addition to courses in English. You may need to plan ahead as some programs taught in English still require students to have taken one or two semesters of language in order to meet the minimum eligibility criteria. Language study at this level will help you navigate and interact with the local culture.

Browse programs by language.

Cost can be a determining factor for some students and it is important to keep in mind any existing financial aid you receive and your ability to budget for costs outside of program fees. As you weigh your options, consider how you can maximize eligibility for scholarships or grants, such as maintaining a high GPA. Program fees and local cost of living can vary significantly between options. Summer programs can seem appealing because of relatively lower fees compared to longer durations, but students can take most forms of existing aid with them on semester and academic year programs. Semester funding opportunities also tend to be for higher amounts. If you anticipate cost will be a primary concern for you, please visit our office to discuss programs within your budget and how to seek the financial aid available to you.

For more detailed information, see our Financial Considerations page.

When students apply to study abroad on IU Programs, the academic fit between a student’s degree plan and the program they have selected is one component selection committees will consider. With this in mind, you should consider how coursework abroad will help you further your academic goals as well as the timing of study abroad within your college career. Students often enroll in major, minor, and elective courses that can fulfill general education requirements abroad. While coursework in some fields of study is widely available, students in some majors may have more limited options. Other students may need to be mindful of terms they are required to be on campus to fulfill specific requirements. If you have special course needs, please meet with your academic advisor(s) and a study advisor to help you find options. The earlier you start planning to study abroad, the more options you'll have to integrate an overseas study program into your academic career.

For additional guidance please visit our page on academic planning.

Browse programs by major.

Some students may have other things to consider as part of their planning process that are specific to them or based on personal preferences. You may have family responsibilities and need to determine if a family member could accompany you or if other arrangements for care might need to be made in advance. Consider whether you have any strong preferences related to your living situation, program size, whether you want to take courses with local or other US-based students, and if there are specific things you want to experience on your program.