Study Abroad Office

Selecting a Program


There are different types of international programs available for varying lengths of time. In order to determine which one is the best fit for you, you must first understand your goals and preferences relating to an international experience. Below are descriptions of available program lengths and types. Remember, one size does not fit all when considering a study abroad program. Just because your friend enjoyed a particular program does not mean that's the best program for you.

Program Length

"For how long should I go abroad?" We often hear this question in the Study Abroad Office, and we usually answer, "For as long as you can!" Students who return from study abroad, whether it was on a short-term program or for an academic year, tell us the experience wasn't long enough. The longer that you are able to live and study abroad, the more you will learn from it. However, even a two-week program can be a valuable and life-changing experience. You can learn a great deal in any amount of time; the most important thing is to go abroad!

Short-Term Programs
Short-term programs range in length from two to six weeks and are usually held during the summer or winter intersession. A short-term program may provide an introduction to a new country and culture and allow for intensive study of a particular language or subject. The shorter length may be ideal for students with full-time jobs, family responsibilities, or little flexibility in their academic degree program.

Semester and Academic Year Programs
You may also choose to study abroad for either the fall or spring semester, or for the full academic year. These longer programs are ideal for students wanting to fully participate in a foreign culture, become proficient in a foreign language, complete an internship, or live a typical student life in another country.

Program Type

In addition to varying program lengths, there are also different types of programs. The three main types of programs are: Exchange, Other (affiliate and non-UMSL), and Faculty-Led. Each program type offers distinct benefits.

Exchange Programs
Most study abroad programs at UMSL are exchange programs. The University of Missouri-St. Louis has exchange partnerships with over 80 universities around the world. Students participating in an exchange program study at any of these partner institutions but remain enrolled at UMSL and pay UMSL educational fees. Housing, meals, and other costs will be paid in the host country. At the same time, students from these partner universities come to study at UMSL for one or two semesters.

If you participate in an exchange program, generally you will be enrolled directly in the foreign university and take classes with local students. There may be one or two other UMSL students at the same university, or you may be the only one. There will be an international office at the host university to help answer your questions and provide guidance and support, but this type of program requires students to be independent and motivated. Exchange programs provide the most cultural immersion and are the most affordable.

Cost: UMSL educational fees plus travel and living expenses
Credit: UMSL credit in residence, counts towards GPA
Financial Aid: Federal and UMSL financial aid may be used

Other Study Abroad Programs
Other study abroad programs include affiliate programs (such as AustraLearn) and non-UMSL programs. These programs are distinct from exchange programs because they are organized by private organizations or other universities and do not involve international students coming to UMSL. Many U.S. students will be going to the same destination on the same program. Classes are usually with other U.S. students instead of local students. There is generally much less cultural immersion and interaction with the host country on these programs, but there is more support provided for students.

When participating in a non-UMSL or affiliate program, you pay the fees directly to the sponsoring university or program provider. These programs are ideal for students who desire more structure or want to study in a location where UMSL does not have any partner universities. There are thousands of study abroad programs available. While UMSL students are encouraged to participate in exchange or faculty-led programs, depending on your major or desired location, another study abroad program may be more appropriate for you.

Cost: Tuition and fees set by the sponsoring organization
Credit: Transfer credit. Keep in mind limitations on credit transfer for your degree program.
Financial Aid: Federal aid may be used, but UMSL scholarships may or may not be applied, depending on the rules of your scholarships.

Faculty-Led Programs
Most faculty-led programs run for two to three weeks during the summer or winter intersession. They are group programs with participants primarily from UMSL, and a University of Missouri-St. Louis professor leads the group and provides some or most of the academic instruction. You pay UMSL educational fees.

Cost: UMSL educational fees and a program fee that covers program and travel-related expenses.
Credit: UMSL credit in residence, counts towards GPA
Financial Aid: Federal and UMSL financial aid may be used. There are special considerations for summer programs.