9 Budget-Friendly Study Abroad Programs

by Published

In tough economic times, study abroad does not have to break the budget, and it actually CAN 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. These types of experiences are simply not possible at home, at least not in the same eye-opening way. To help ensure everyone believes in their availability to study abroad, regardless of their finances, we've combed the internet, asked friends, and scoured our resources to come up with a list of nine budget study abroad programs. 

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

1. Summer in Madrid with API

The ideal location for any big-city-lover with a small-town-budget, Madrid is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. Students can not only immerse themselves in Spanish culture, and pick up a good amount of Spanish language skills, they'll also have the opportunity to travel (on a budget) throughout the country. Who said study abroad has to be all about studying? But, at the end of the day, you are sure to learn a lot studying abroad in Madrid.

2. 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, or sociology and want to do it in English, Collegium Civitas may be perfect for you. Warsaw is a wonderful jumping off point for low cost travel in the region as well as in Europe.

3. Thammasat University with 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.

Mountain view in rural Nepal

4. 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.

5. Center for Study Abroad 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. All students take undergraduate courses in Chinese language and culture, taught in English by bilingual Nanjing University faculty members. Cultural activities and excursions are also offered, and programs are available throughout the year for varying durations.

Florence, Italy

6. 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.

7. Stellenbosch University with CISabroad

Stellenbosch University provides not only a great academic experience for study abroad, but also an English-friendly atmosphere. Since most South Africans speak Afrikaans, English, and 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. 

8. 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.

9. Cape Town University with IESAbroad

Cape Town University is one of the best universities in Africa. Similar to Stellenbosch University, the majority of classes at Cape Town University are offered in English, at essentially the same cost. 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.

Still haven't found a program that speaks to you (and your budget? Learn more about how to study abroad on a budget and then browse more study abroad programs!