Top 10 Study Abroad Destinations for 2011

World Atlas

World Atlas by JoeLodge, on Flickr

Ever wondered what study abroad destinations travelers are searching for on GoAbroad? Today we’re featuring the top ten most popular study abroad destinations, based on how many users searched for a particular country on Whether you’re interested in perfecting your Italian language skills, exploring the Australian Outback or studying ancient Chinese cultures, each of these destinations has something unique to offer.

1. Italy

With it’s amazing food, sexy language, beautiful art, and dynamic history, Italy is the most sought after destination for aspiring study abroad students. Programs have a unique blend of Italian cultural studies and courses in a variety of majors from business to fine arts.

Pros: Most programs require little to no Italian language study making Italy more accessible to even more students. Gelato: Need we say more?
Cons: Not learning the local language makes integrating into the local culture difficult – what’s the fun in that? And eating all that gelato can’t be good for the waistline – but oh so good for the soul.

Programs to check out:

2. Spain

Spain boasts bull fights, siestas, and flamenco dancers. And that’s just the stereotypical stuff. Barcelona, Seville, Madrid, Salamanca, Valencia and beyond – each year thousands of students journey to Spain to learn Spanish (duh!) and take classes in international business, European studies and more.

Pros: Programs to fit almost any student’s needs and when it comes to housing, students have a lot of options – home-stays, shared apartments, or traditional dorms.
Cons: Spain is so popular among US students that it’s sometimes hard to immerse in the local culture. Students need to be intentional about going off the beaten path and outside their comfort zones.

Programs to check out:

  • University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC)
  • International Studies Abroad (ISA)
  • Barcelona Study Abroad Experience (BSAE)

3. England

Perhaps it’s the historical link between our two countries….or our fascination with David Beckham…or our love of Harry Potter, but there’s no denying that US students are eager to study in England.

Pros: For students who’ve never been out of the country, England offers a more subtle foray into the world of cultural differences.
Cons: May be just a bit too “easy” for students seeking a dramatically different cultural experience. Also, the UK is expensive; there’s no getting around that. If cost is a concern, students should look for programs outside of London for more affordable options.

Programs to check out:

  • American Institute for Foreign Studies (AIFS)
  • Academic Programs International (API)
  • Roehampton University

4. France

From the dazzling city lights and sites of Paris to the coastal sun and fun of the French Riviera – students love the romanticism of France. Okay, maybe they love the fashion too.

Pros: Programs available in such diverse locations as cosmopolitan Paris or medieval Avignon. Study in almost any major in French or English.
Cons: Some prior French language study highly recommended. Also, the occasional union protests can shut the country down. But hey, it’s all part of the experience.

Programs to check out:

  • Center for Study Abroad (CSA)
  • Global Learning Semesters
  • Central College Abroad

5. Germany

Maybe because Germany is home to the world famous Oktoberfest and the Neuschwanstein Castle (Disney’s inspiration), but there’s no denying that students are drawn to the many pleasures of German culture and its world-class education.

Pros: A great place to study business, hard sciences, and of course, German. Also a great place for academic internships with some of the worlds biggest companies headquartered there.
Cons: Some prior German study recommended, though many programs are offering a combination of German language and courses taught in English. The best of both worlds!

Programs to check out:

  • Institute for the International Education of Students (IES)
  • AmeriSpan Study Abroad
  • CEPA Europe

6. Australia

From snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, hiking in the Outback, or exploring metropolitan Sydney, thousands of students fly south to visit the land down under – Australia.

Pros: Australia is host to some of the best universities in the world where students can study in nearly every major including the hard sciences, business, and the humanities.
Cons: Being in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s academic calendar is opposite to ours in North America. This can be a bummer for students with seasonal commitments back in the States like sports and summer internships.

Programs to check out:

  • CAPA International Education
  • AustraLearn
  • Center for International Studies (CISabr0ad)

7. Japan

With beautiful zen-like architecture, some of the world’s most high-tech gadgets, and of course, sushi, Japan offers students a wonderfully rich culture to explore.

Pros: Japan has the perfect intersection of modern conveniences (check out the shinkansen, Japan’s crazy fast train)  and historical surroundings (nearly every city has an ancient Buddhist temple).
Cons: Japan can be pretty expensive even to the American consumer palette. Some previous Japanese language study is recommended or at least take a starter course on site.

Programs to check out:

  • CET Academic Programs
  • KCP International Japanese Language School
  • Temple University International Programs

8. China

Students are seeking out China for the competitive advantage it will bring to their resumes – not to mention sites like the Great Wall or Terracotta Warriors or dynamic cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

Pros: Being the largest emerging economy in the world – language ability in Mandarin, Cantonese or another Chinese dialect gives students a competitive edge in the job market.
Cons: Some students can experience some culture shock due to dramatically different language and cultural perspectives.

Programs to check out:

  • Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)
  • China Study Abroad
  • Abroadco

9. Argentina

Argentina is an amazing experience from end to end – learning the art of Tango in metropolitan Buenos Aries, exploring the wine country, hiking Patagonia, and viewing one of the most expansive waterfalls in the world, Iguazu Falls.

Pros: Eating out is never a challenge or expensive for the adventurous or tame, with strong Italian influences and carnivorous hospitality.
Cons: The expansive landscape can be a challenge for anyone wanting to see each part of this beautiful country. Prior Spanish study definitely recommended, though some courses are taught in English.

Programs to check out:

10. Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s balance of rugged outdoor adventure and cultural urban flair is the perfect destination for a truly unique study abroad experience, that’s not too far from home.
Pros: Amazing balance of Latin American culture and American tourism, ease of travel and English friendly with lots of courses taught in English as well as Spanish.
Cons: An abundance of tourism makes cultural immersion a bit difficult.

Programs to check out:

  • ProWorld
  • Academic Studies Abroad (ASA)
  • Sol Education Abroad
What country sparks your interest?
By: Brooke Roberts & Gloria Coughlin

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4 Responses to “Top 10 Study Abroad Destinations for 2011”

  1. Zachary Macinnes
    Monday, 1 August 2011 at 11:01 #

    Great post! Very interesting information.

  2. Halle
    Thursday, 4 August 2011 at 5:35 #

    Very interesting article! Americans still love crazy Europe :) I’m surprised there’s only one Asian country on the list but I guess Asia is becoming more and more popular. I studied in Indonesia last year through a study abroad organization called Asia Exchange. Tuition fees are cheap!! I was very happy to live in Bali and enjoy the beauty of the island! Not so many Americans there, luckily. Take a look at their website at

  3. LoveStudyAbroad
    Friday, 4 November 2011 at 11:58 #

    Definitely agree with Italy as #1 although I’d be interested in seeing a list of the top 10 up and coming study abroad destinations. There are some awesome places that get overshadowed but are now starting to increase in popularity.


  1. gap year and voluntaring programs | Pearltrees - Monday, 23 January 2012

    […] Most Popular Study Abroad Destinations 2011 With it’s amazing food, sexy language, beautiful art, and dynamic history, Italy is the most sought after destination for aspiring study abroad students. Programs have a unique blend of Italian cultural studies and courses in a variety of majors from business to fine arts. Pros: Most programs require little to no Italian language study making Italy more accessible to even more students. […]

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