9 Budget-Friendly Study Abroad Programs

We combed the internet, friends, and other resources to come up with a list of 10 Budget Study Abroad Programs. In tough economic times, study abroad does not have to break the budget and can actually be an economical choice for many students. Plus, international experience is something that can set you apart once you are out of college from other job seekers, it can build new friendships and expose you to new ideas, knowledge and ways of thinking.

1. Monterrey, Mexico

Tecnologico de Monterrey - This program offers students the chance to improve their Spanish skills while taking regular university classes in English or Spanish, as their language skills permit. The flexible tuition costs depend on the number of credits taken, instead of a base price for all students. There are three different housing options, including residence halls, homestay, and independent lodging. This adds up to a program that can be very tailored to the individual students' needs. In addition, Mexico is well know for its agreeable cost of living, plus the attractive weather and opportunity to meet other students from throughout Latin America and Mexico is a big draw.

2. Madrid, Spain

Univerisdad Pontificia Comillas - This small, private university in Madrid offers an exchange program with many American Universities. After applying for admission as a visiting student to the Comillas, you begin your university studies alongside other Spanish and Spanish-speaking students. The reasonable fee includes lodging, which is a homestay or aparthotel. This is certainly an exceptional value for a program in Spain that offers English and Spanish courses, especially when you consider most programs in Spain are well beyond $15,000 per academic year or through direct enrollment at many public Spanish Universities, you will not have the option to take classes in English.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid. Photo by Nikki Powers

3. Warsaw, Poland

Collegium Civitas - This small university in Warsaw, Poland provides both English and Polish courses for either semester or full year study abroad. Concentrating mostly in International Relations and the Political Sciences, you can directly enroll in their study abroad programs for your study. If you are interested in getting an MA or BA degree in International Relations, Political Science and Sociology taught in English, you can do that too. Warsaw is a wonderful jumping off point for low cost travel in the region as well as in Europe. But Poland itself offers many treasures, including: Jasna Gora Monastery, Auschwitz, Gdansk, and Royal Castle at Wawel Hill, to name a few.

4. Bangkok, Thailand

Thammasat University through World Endeavors - Thailand is a perfect location for travel throughout southeast Asia and World Endeavors' Thai Studies Semester in Bangkok is perfect for students looking for the complete Thai experience. The program introduces students to Thai language, literature, history, economics, politics and other aspects of Thai culture. The courses are designed for small groups of students with an emphasis on current issues, an active exchange of ideas, and field trips. Classes are taught in Thai or English, depending on level. However, students with no exposure to the Thai language are encouraged to apply. You will study alongside Thai and other international students and your personal 'Thai buddy' will help you adjust to your new environment by introducing you to the Thai way of life. The program's reasonable fee covers lodging, excursions, and activities.


5. Nepal

Passage Project - Passage International offers a nontraditional experience for students in Nepal. In order to gain credit from your home university for this program, make sure you gather all the information necessary in advance from the program administrators, as it is nontraditional in nature. The Summer program in the Himalayas begins with orientation in and around the Kathmandu Valley with introductory meetings, language classes, health and safety precautions, introduction to local customs, cultural excursions, and cross-cultural adjustment. After orientation, students move in with their Nepali or Tibetan home stay families throughout Kathmandu, who come from varied backgrounds. An important aspect of the semester will be the independent study projects, so you should have one in mind before you depart on this program. Past participants projects have included: yoga, dance, religious study, humanitarian work, and alternative therapies. Excursions and trekking are another vital part of this unique program that is tailored to fit each student.

6. Nanjing, China

College Consortium for International Studies at Nanjing University - This program, located Nanjing University, about 200 miles west up the Yangzi River from Shanghai, offers students a chance to explore China and take language and culture courses at an introductory level. All students take courses in Chinese language and Culture and choose from three other courses on China, taught in English by bilingual Nanjing University faculty members. These other courses may include: Geography of China, Survey of China's History, Survey of Chinese Literature, China’s Political System, and Chinese Culture and Society. An added bonus is that students are matched with Chinese students, who act as “cultural interpreters” and help American students learn about Chinese culture, university and student life in China, and join students in activities if mutually desired. Housing and meals are included in the fees.

Florence, Italy

7. Florence, Italy

European Heritage Institute at Instituto Europeo - Although this program is slightly more expensive than many on the list, and the cost does not include housing, because it is located in Western Europe, this program is a bargain for a liberal arts student looking to take Italian language and arts courses. The Istituto Europeo offers programs for music, Italian language, studio art, art history, social sciences and the humanities. If you are mainly interested in taking an Italian intensive semester abroad, you can do that too, at an even lower cost. However, this program offers significant flexibility for the student to find the lodging that is right for them as well as the course selection that fits their interest, not to mention that its location in Western Europe is prime for low cost travel throughout the continent.

8. South Africa

Stellenbosch University and Cape Town University are two of the best universities in Africa and not only provide a great academic experience for study abroad, but because most South Africans speak Afrikaans, English, and usually another language, it is a country where a great deal can be learned outside the classroom. Most of Stellenbosh University's classes are taught in Afrikaans, but there is a large selection of classes offered in English, so make sure you check to see that the classes you are interested in are in English. If not, check out Cape Town University, where the majority of classes are offered in English, at essentially the same cost as Stellenbosh University. Studying and living in South Africa will provide any student with unique experiences of the country's past, as well as cultural and environmental diversity.

9. Warsaw, Poland

Study Abroad Poland - This program enrolls students at private Polish universities that offer both English and Polish subject classes, as well as Polish language classes. Students have an opportunity to take courses in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, political science, international relations, economics, electrical, and computer engineering. The program places students in residential halls, facilitating exchange and learning with Polish students as well as with university life. The fee includes health insurance, free transportation pass, internet, housing in a residential hall, free use of a prepaid cell, and airport transfers, all great additions to an already low cost program. Poland is known as a low cost travel destination, but with plenty of history, it should also be noted as a destination for study abroad.