High School Programs in North America

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A Guide to High School Programs Abroad in North America

Although there are only three countries which constitute North America, its huge presence on the global stage outweighs the relatively small sum of its component parts. Embarking on a high school program in North America will introduce you to a dynamic and diverse continent amidst one of the most unique and well-preserved environmental backdrops on the planet. Vastly influential along a variety of political, economic, and cultural avenues, North America is a must-visit destination for any high school student with a drive to adventure in the big time.


Although some definitions of North America are expanded to include the island countries of the Caribbean Region, most measures designate the continent as encompassing just the countries of Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Mexico, the southernmost nation on the continent, stands out as a distinct destination because it is the only one of these three which is technically also part of Latin America. Therefore much different culturally than its heavily industrialized Western neighbors, Mexico will prove a very enriching location where to land through a high school program in North America.

One step to the north, The United States is typically the most popular destination for high school programs in North America because of its pre-eminence on many fronts of the global stage. Embarking on a high school program in the United States will enable you to experience a whole new side of the world superpower, debunking many preconceptions you may have developed from its portrayal in media and popular culture.

Canada, the northernmost country on the continent, can also be a great place where to enroll in a high school program in North America. Although Canada is the second largest country in the world by land area, it is actually home to a relatively small population of just 35 million inhabitants. Nonetheless Canada has a very powerful economy and also measures very highly on most measures of human development and social equality; a great model to learn from for high school students abroad.

Program Opportunities

There are many different types of high school programs in North America that you can enroll in, the most traditional being a study abroad program. Generally running for anywhere from two weeks to two months over the summertime, a study abroad program in North America will enable you to explore a variety of academic subjects such as math, science, and history alongside local high school students. Language immersion programs are especially popular within this type of high school program in North America.

Volunteer programs are also quite popular among high school students abroad in North America.  While there is a tremendous amount of wealth in North America, there is also a great deal of economic inequality that is pervasive throughout the continent. High school students from around the world can lend a helping hand by providing valuable services in education, healthcare, and infrastructural development to aid the continent’s underserved.

Lastly, cultural exploration and adventure travel programs can also be a great way to explore the continent through as a high school student abroad. These types of high school programs in North America will often travel throughout several different destinations on the continent, making them a good option for students who do not want to stay in just one place.

Scholarships & Costs

The United States and Canada are both quite expensive places to travel, while Mexico is considerably more affordable because it is a developing country. In all three locations, the fees for a high school program abroad can nevertheless run up to be quite expensive. Our Scholarship Directory and Fundraising resource are two great places to get started working to cover the costs of the trip.

Accommodation & Visas

Again, the type of accommodation you have during a high school program in North America will vary significantly depending on your destination within the continent. Homestays and student dormitories are generally the most popular options for high school students abroad in North America, while adventure travel programs will often utilize a variety of different housing situations as you move about between locations.

Visa policies differ for Mexico, Canada, and the United States depending on your home country and the duration of your high school program in North America. In many circumstances you will be able to enter Mexico or Canada without obtaining a visa prior, while in the United States you will almost always have to apply for a visa before entry into the country. For information about visa policies on the continent, check out our Embassy Directory.

Benefits & Challenges

Diversity. The immense diversity of people, cultures, cities, and landscapes throughout North America makes it an incredible place to travel. Come experience the so-called “melting pot” firsthand. 

Education. North America boasts some incredible learning opportunities, from its prestigious higher education system to the lessons embedded in travel itself. Get ready to return a wiser person.

Demystification. North America consistently finds itself at the center of the world stage in politics, finance, culture, and entertainment. Yet what you experience while on the inside may be quite different than what you’d have come to expect.

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Banner Report 2018

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SPI Study Abroad: Spanish Immersion & Volunteer Mexico

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High School Programs with Projects Abroad

High school students from all over the globe are eligible to join Projects Abroad programs in the North American Region. Travel to Mexico for a fun and educational learning experience that includes community service, language immersion, and cultural exploration. The program includes food and accommodation, travel and medical insurance, and 24-hour staff support.


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Sol Abroad

Experience studying in North America with Sol Abroad high school study and Spanish immersion programs. The program, based in the charming colonial city of Oaxaca, provides students with a deeply immersive experience thanks to limited interaction with other foreign students and better communication with native speakers.


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Study Abroad in Mexico

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California Community Service - 28 Days

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High School Marine Conservation & PADI Advanced Open Water

Keen to learn how to identify key fish and coral species and how to conduct reef-based research? Come and explore the magical underwater world that Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has to offer. Volunteers will learn first-hand about the issues facing marine ecosystems while earning their PADI Advanced Open Water qualification. The program is specifically designed for volunteers between the ages of 1...


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Experiment in International Living

Various thought-provoking travel programs await high school students with Experiment in International Living, in the North American locations. Students may opt to take part in community service with a Navajo Nation, delve into incomparable marine ecosystems of Baja, or spice up their trips through special excursions to see uncharted areas of the continent.


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Broadreach International Summer Programs

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Project Fashion at USC: Product Design & Development

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American International School of Utah

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International Programs

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Stay with a Host Family in Mexico! (Summer Immersion)

Experience the rich culture and history of Mexico by spending your summer as a member of a Mexican host family for 3 or 4 weeks! This program will allow you to immerse yourself in Spanish, make international friends, and get to know Mexican culture firsthand through your host family's everyday life. Most exchange students will be placed with a host family in a town outside of Mexico City. Your ...