Study Abroad in Sri Lanka

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a small island nation located near the southeastern coastline of India, is a country of tremendous diversity, rich cultural history, and growing influence in the global arena. Manifesting from a documented civilization that spans back several millennia, and currently standing as one of the most highly developed countries in South Asia, you can embark on an immersive adventure learning all about this country’s fascinating past and present circumstances while you study abroad in Sri Lanka.


Though overshadowed on a map by its giant neighboring country of India, Sri Lanka has long flourished under its own national identity. The island of Sri Lanka is fairly small, but its population of over 20 million citizens makes it one of the more densely populated countries in the world.  Sri Lanka is also one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, home to thousands of endemic plant and animal species amidst its beautiful landscape.

With a population nearing 6 million people, Colombo is the country’s largest city by a considerable margin, and not coincidentally also the most popular location where to study abroad in Sri Lanka. Colombo is the cultural and economic center or Sri Lanka, and also sits adjacent to the country’s capital city of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte. The University of Colombo, which rests in the heart of the city, is also the largest and most prestigious university in the country.

Kandy, the country’s second largest city, is another popular destination where to study abroad in Sri Lanka for many international students. Located in the heart of the country on the shores of a lake with its namesake, Kandy was formerly the capital of Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdom and today is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a population of just 125,000, Kandy will make for a much more laid back experience than Colombo while you study abroad in Sri Lanka.

Subjects & Courses

Higher education in Sri Lanka is extremely competitive for enrollment among local students, but many of the country’s colleges make room for international students to study abroad as part of exchange programs nonetheless. There is no standardized language medium in Sri Lanka’s higher education system, so many universities will list course offerings taught in all three of the country’s recognized languages (Sinhala, Tamil, and English).

Study abroad programs in Sri Lanka will generally enable you to enroll in courses at either a local university or at a smaller international or satellite school. Courses taught at smaller schools or as part of a structured program are often custom tailored toward international students, offering a survey of course topics regarding Sri Lanka’s culture and history. Some additional specific subject areas for students who study abroad in Sri Lanka include medicine, nutrition, and the liberal arts.

International students can typically choose to study abroad in Sri Lanka during summer session, fall or spring semesters, or for a full academic year. There are in total 15 state universities in Sri Lanka, and a variety of smaller private and international schools which provide students with an alternative to these institutions.

Scholarships & Costs

Undergraduate universities in Sri Lanka are essentially free for citizens of the country, but international students might incur some additional charges while they are studying abroad. Different study abroad programs in Sri Lanka will vary in their affordability; you can check out our scholarship directory to learn all about the financial aid opportunities which are available  in the country.

The good news is that Sri Lanka is a largely affordable destination for most international students, with on-the-ground costs remaining comparatively low by international standards. The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, which fluctuates at about 150 LKR to $1 USD.

Accommodation & Visas

Homestays are typically the most common form of housing while you study abroad in Sri Lanka, providing a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the country’s family culture. Student dormitories or individual apartments are also sometimes made available by study abroad programs in Sri Lanka, so take the different types of available accommodation into account while deciding on the perfect program.

International students travelling from most countries will need to obtain a student visa with the endorsement of the host school in order to study abroad in Sri Lanka. The exact type of documentation you will need may depend on factors such as your home country and the planned duration of your stay; you can check out our Sri Lankan Embassy Directory for more information regarding your individual circumstances.

Benefits & Challenges

Diversity. Having long been an active player in international affairs, Sri Lanka has a rich history of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity. Studying abroad here will expose you to a tremendous amount of new experiences.

Buddhist Heritage. Sri Lanka has a long tradition of practicing Buddhism, and is home to some of the religion’s most important ancient temples. Students who are interested Buddhism can embark on a spiritually awakening experience while they study abroad in Sri Lanka.

Break Boundaries. If you are traveling from the English speaking world, then Sri Lanka will feel much different than home. This is your opportunity to break free and completely redefine your comfort zone.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Sri Lanka


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Study, Research and Intern Psychology in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Study Psychology at Undergraduate and Postgraduate Level for a fraction of the cost in Europe in a Beautiful tropical island BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Applied Psychology, MSc Business Psychology, Pg.Diploma in CBT Diploma in General Psychology, Diploma in Child & Adolescent Psychology, Diploma in Business & Organizational Psychology, Diploma in Forensic & Criminal Psychology Psychology...


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The Gilman International Scholarship Program & Boren Awards

The Gilman International Scholarship Program helps students study abroad in underrepresented study abroad locations around the world, such as Sri Lanka, by providing financial aid to those with a good academic reputation. Boren Award recipients are encouraged to participate in cultural immersion activities, acquire skills, knowledge, and experience that are essential to the future security of t...


IFSA Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program

This semester study abroad program makes Sri Lanka, a beautiful island nation, your classroom. You will develop necessary tools to navigate the country as an informed researcher and cultural insider. At the same time, you will learn colloquial Sinhala and practice it with locals, including your host family. You will also conduct an Independent Study Project on contemporary post-war challenges o...


Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program

The Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program offers a unique immersion experience that is ideal for students who are interested in challenging themselves academically and personally outside of their home institution. We combine rigorous language study and academic classes with engaging field trips, room and board through a homestay, and support and tools needed to create a meaningful ...