Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a student’s academic career, but it is one that might seem daunting at first. How much will it cost? Will I delay my graduation? Where can I go? How long should I be gone? These are some of the most common questions, and rightly so!

The first thing you need to do when you want to study abroad is to think about what kind of experience you want to have while you are away by asking yourself:

How long do I want to study abroad?

A good first place to start might be length of study. At USF Education Abroad, we offer many different kinds of programs, but our three most popular types are:

Semester Study–Fall and spring full semester programs allow students to truly integrate into their host culture and attend institutes, colleges, and universities overseas with other foreign and local students. Your living options and program prices range from program to program as does the field of study available. In most cases, you may take courses from a range of majors as varied as the USF catalog. A semester abroad is an enriching experience allowing you to truly acculturate to your host country. It allows you the opportunity to get to know the people and culture as well as see and experience your discipline from a different perspective–one that can not only compliment your own understanding, but one you can bring back with you and use to supplement your home campus USF education.

Summer Programs–USF summer programs range in length from 2 to 10 weeks during the May to August period. Program dates vary, but each are designed to maximize student exposure to their host cultures while providing an intensive academic study. In most cases, some lectures will be conducted on campus before and after the trip, as well as exams and projects with the faculty director on-site in their host country. In addition to USF faculty led programs, Education Abroad is partnered with many international partner institutes and universities that host our students for focused study. There is also the potential for experiential learning through service, teaching, and internships.

Short-Term Programs–The Education Abroad Office has previously arranged spring break and intersession short programs designed for students with limited travel time but intense interest. These programs are highly intensive in nature and rely on a good deal of course work to be completed on campus prior to departure. This work is then brought to life through on-site research and firsthand experiences.

Not all schools and programs have terms dates that line up exactly with USF’s dates. You are encouraged to research your program on the web or speak to an Education Abroad Advisor for more details on particular programs.

Each program length has its own advantages, and you should consider first and foremost the kind of experience you want to have. Semester study is often considered to be the most enriching as students are often integrated with local students in their host country, take courses at a host university or institution, and have the opportunity to integrate into a society by participating in local customs and truly living abroad; they are also the most cost effective programs when total cost is compared to time spent in country. Summer programs offer students a taste of the culture but are shorter and thus sometimes work more easily with their schedules and responsibilities at home. Please check out our available programs page for all of our program offerings: Available Programs

When do I want to study abroad?

No matter the end result, it is always best to plan early. Everyone’s schedule is different so this is something you really need to think about. It is always a good idea to go to your major’s academic adviser and talk about your desire to go abroad so this person can help you make room in your schedule. The earlier you have this conversation, the easier it is to make sure you stay on track for graduation. This includes saving some of your electives for the semester or summer you want to go and researching the schools for ones that offer your major.

Students looking to go abroad for a semester must have at least sophomore standing the first semester they are away. Graduating seniors may not go abroad in their last semester as grades often take two or more months to properly transfer from overseas. Sophomore and junior year are the most popular times for students to study for a full semester.

Students interested in summer programs are welcomed at any stage or level of their education, so long as the student is at least 18 years old at the time of participation (certain exception can be made with parental consent for younger students enrolled at USF).

Graduate students are advised to check with their departments as required courses are often only taught on campus during certain parts of the year. Scheduling and logistics for alternative-calendar programs such as independent research, field work, medical rotations, special projects and internships should be a collaborative effort between the student, their department, and the Education Abroad Office.

Where do I want to study abroad?

With programs on six of the seven continents (nothing in Antarctica – yet), this question has the potential of being one of the most difficult to answer. USF Education Abroad strives to have a diverse and rich selection of programs in a variety of fields to match the needs of all of our students; however, we know this might be a difficult goal to achieve. Until then, we offer programs in over 35 countries. Our overall program list is constantly being updated. Be sure to check back often for additions.

Our office can also help you attend programs in other institutions if we do not have one that is right for you. While we cannot guarantee the costs of such ventures, we are always happy to help students with their independent programs.

What do I want to study?

The academic requirements you are looking to fulfill can greatly influence the program you select. Our summer programs have a variety of available courses, but they are limited by which faculty are going and the classes the institute overseas is willing to teach. Most summer programs will have a short-list of one to six classes offered (the average being two). Students should check the individual program pages and descriptions to see which classes are offered on these short programs. Some summer programs like our Cambridge International Summer School offer a large number of courses with very specific topics. Students should always speak with the academic department from which they are looking to get credit to be certain they understand how these summer courses will transfer back to USF.

Semester programs offer students the greatest selection of courses as the entire course catalog of the foreign school is normally open to students studying for a semester or a year. That being said, students may be limited in language of instruction in the case of countries where English is not the primary language; in most cases courses are available in English, but students should investigate their school of choice.

Tips for Planning

Each student’s academic program is different, and students should work with their academic advisers throughout the process of studying abroad. USF Education Abroad advisors are administrators and not academic advisors – therefore they cannot advise you on how classes will count towards you degree, only your department can do that.

Tip 1: Plan early.
Talk to your academic advisor in advance about your desire to study abroad. Students studying in the pre-med or pre-architecture track, through the College of Medicine, College of Engineering, and/or College of Nursing should consult as early as possible with their advisors to make room in your schedules to remain on track for graduation.

Tip 2: saving one or two electives for use abroad.

Tip 3: fulfilling language requirements (basic to advanced).

Tip 4: which courses must be taken on campus and which can be replaced by external courses.

Tip 5: areas of the world and schools for excellence within your discipline.

Tip 6: major specific grants and scholarships for international study.

In the end, our office is here to help any way we can. If you or your advisor have any questions or concerns, our staff is here to address them – please feel free to contact us. 


If you are interested in study abroad opportunities please contact the Global Engagement Office.