India is a world within itself, a country with a larger population (1.3 billion people) than any other single continent on earth outside of Asia. Sheltered by the great Himalayas to the north, the Indian subcontinent has a long and complex history that spans back to the earliest civilizations of humankind. Today a deeply spiritual country bent on overcoming the modern challenges of development and globalization, there is no better place to shake your worldview to its core than while you study abroad in India.
Home to over 50 cities with a population of 1 million people or more, you will have no shortage of flourishing destinations laid out before you when deciding where to study abroad in India. You could spend a lifetime exploring the Indian subcontinent and still not see everything you want to see, so let’s start here by narrowing down your options to just the most popular destinations.
New Delhi is the country’s capital city and home to many of its most highly ranked universities, so naturally this is the first choice for many of where to study abroad in India. Mumbai, India’s largest city sitting pristinely on the coast of the Arabian Sea, is also an exceedingly popular destination for study abroad programs in India. Both are major global cities; New Delhi being at the heart of Indian politics, and Mumbai serving as the country’s commercial capital and major economic power.
Other popular cities where to study abroad in India include Hyderabad, Chennai, and Jaipur. India is a very culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse country, so your experience studying abroad will differ significantly from region to region. One thing to decide early on is whether you would rather study abroad in northern or southern India, then work your way down from there by researching several possible destinations.
Subjects & Courses
International students decide to study abroad in India for all different reasons; some are more academically driven, and others care more about the journey itself. It is possible both to enroll at a local university and pursue courses that will advance your degree track (most Indian universities luckily use English as the medium of education), or to take a variety of different courses tailored for international students while studying at a smaller satellite school.
Some popular subjects that students pursue while studying abroad in India include Development Studies, Women’s Studies, History, Philosophy, and Economics. If you enroll at a local university then you will have the luxury of choosing from a full course catalogue while also immersing yourself in student life. Studying abroad at a smaller international or satellite school may limit your course options, but it can also be a great way to brush the surface of many different aspects of Indian history and culture.
Many India study abroad programs are also subject-specific, meaning that you can study alongside students of similar interest while benefiting from a more focused academic approach to the Indian context. For example you might choose to embark on a summer program built around sustainable development, which may also offer the opportunity to combine your studies with an internship or other form of community engagement.
Scholarships & Costs
It is very affordable to study abroad in India. While currently enjoying a rapid degree of economic development, India nevertheless remains a less developed country, meaning that most costs of living will be exceptionally low by Western standards. Tuition and program fees can still prove quite expensive however, so it is a good idea to check out our Scholarship Directory if affordability is a concern.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are the most popular form of accommodation while studying abroad in India, providing international students a rare opportunity to immerse themselves fully in Indian family life and culture. Individual apartments and dormitories are also often made available. Wherever you live, bear in mind that commodities such as air conditioning, internet, and hot water may not always be accounted for (especially in rural areas, where living conditions remain basic).
You will usually need to apply for a student visa ahead of time in order to study abroad in India. The exact visa you will need depends on factors such as your home country and the duration of your studies in India; you can check out our Indian Embassy Directory for more information regarding your individual situation.
Benefits & Challenges
Culture Shock. This will be a big theme throughout the duration of your study abroad program in India. As a local professor once put it, “There is everywhere else in the world, then there is India.” Be prepared for an eye opening experience.
Personal Journey. India has attracted world travellers for thousands of years as a land of infinite depth and complexity. Studying abroad in India you will learn a lot about the world, and a lot about yourself as well.
Exploration. One of the great bonuses about studying abroad in India is how affordable it is to travel around the country. Long train rides through the countryside or short flights overhead are your ticket to unforgettable adventures.