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Many people dream of traveling across the world. But college is when most will spend their time in one place, with visits to their hometowns possibly being the only journeys that take place. However, there is a way to study in America and travel to other countries all in one package. It’s through a college’s study abroad program. An international program can be one of the most exciting and enriching experiences you ever undertake. And this article is going to show you the best ones.

Numerous colleges across the US now offer unique chances for students to spend part of their college career in another country. This allows the participating students to learn things in a different way while getting acclimatized to an entirely new culture. The advantage of these programs should be clear to anyone who is an adventurer at heart. Instead of taking classes in one place for four or more years, you can experience unique locations all while attaining a consistent and useful education.

But with the rise of so many study abroad programs, there is also so much choice. How can a prospective student know which colleges offer the best international study programs without spending many, many hours researching? The answer is to read this article. We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. The colleges on this list represent the best in overseas opportunities. The countries that these programs take students to are diverse. The overseas study is useful. And the life skills that the programs provide are second to none.

We’re confident that the colleges below represent America’s finest study abroad opportunities. However, it’s also entirely possible that our choices may not be your perfect fit. That’s fine, and there is still a lot to be learned from our selection. We’ve included summaries of what makes the colleges’ foreign study options so good, meaning that you can compare and contrast these with your own college selections and see if they offer anything comparable. The programs below could directly or indirectly lead to you set off on an adventure that shapes you and your career forever!


There are already several lists online that give data upon what they consider to be the best study abroad colleges. Instead of creating another list that provides a divergent opinion, our rankings compile these various sources. Essentially, ours is the list of lists. Some of our sources use student ratings. Others gather opinion from the academics of a range of respectable colleges. Additionally, others analyze data to provide information on the colleges with the largest quantities of study abroad students or foreign study grant recipients. Our list looks at these differing opinions and statistics and sorts the most consistently recommended colleges into a definitive ranking. After this, we’ve researched the selected colleges and ensured that the colleges have international programs that are every bit as impressive as the methodology sources cite.

Our sources are as follows:

US News, Study Abroad:

US News, Most Students Studying Abroad:

Princeton Review, Most Popular Study Abroad Program:

Huffington Post, The 10 Best Study Abroad Programs:

College Rank, The 25 Best Study Abroad Programs:

Fulbright, Fulbright Top Producing Institutions By Year:

To feature in our list, a college needs to be recommended by at least two of our sources. It also needs to have substantial evidence that its international programs are educational, relevant and, of course, fun!

Our rankings, from 30 to one, are below.

Rank School Location
1 Goucher College Baltimore, MD
2 Saint Olaf College Northfield, MN
3 Middlebury College Middlebury, VT
4 Kalamazoo College Kalamazoo, MI
5 Bates College Lewiston, ME
6 Elon University Elon, NC
7 University of Denver Denver, CO
8 University of Richmond University of Richmond, VA
9 Dickinson College Carlisle, PA
10 Centre College Danville, KY
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  1. Goucher College

    Baltimore, MD

    Five out of six methodology lists consider Goucher College to be an incredible college for study abroad opportunities. Both US News lists feature it, with one noting that the college is also placed at 112th on its best liberal arts colleges ranking, and the other notes that 100% of students study in a different country. Princeton Review's student rating led rankings places it at second nationally. Fulbright reports that five Goucher students benefited from its grant from 2017 to 2018, making the college a top producer of recipients. Lastly and most impressively, it tops College Rank's list of the best colleges for studying internationally. Since 2006, the college has required all of its students to study overseas before they graduate. The college offers over 60 programs in more than 30 countries. This includes Australia, South Africa, Great Britain, Costa Rica, France, Germany and many more.

  2. Saint Olaf College

    Northfield, MN

    Fulbright notes that Saint Olaf College students were awarded eight of its grants in 2017 to 2018, making the college a top producer of grant recipients. In fact, the college ranks on all but one methodology list. Princeton Review names it the 15th best college for study abroad programs. College Rank names it the 11th best college for studying abroad. US News states that it has the seventh highest amount of students studying overseas, at 76%. Lastly, US News's academic sourced list features the college and notes that it is also the site's 57th best liberal arts college. Saint Olaf College's international opportunities promise that "You'll come back to St. Olaf a different person: more confident, more curious, more knowledgeable, and more experienced."

  3. Middlebury College

    Middlebury, VT

    Fulbright states that of the colleges that produced the most of its grant recipients, Middlebury College comes in at joint 10th. In fact, over half of the college's students study abroad, with US News putting the figure at 58%. US News's academic sourced study abroad list also recommends the college and notes that it is its joint sixth best national liberal arts college. Lastly, College Rank names Middlebury College the 24th best for international programs. One of Middlebury's main focuses in its international programs is sustainability. It encourages sustainable travel at all times and even provides grants to students who are undertaking foreign projects that involve researching means on how to reduce the human impact on the environment.

  4. Kalamazoo College

    Kalamazoo, MI

    Four methodology sources consider Kalamazoo College to be one of the top colleges in America for study abroad programs. College Rank places it at seventh. US News states that it's the college with the 14th most students studying abroad, with 70% doing so. US News's academic sourced list names it as one of the best colleges for foreign study and notes that it's the joint 76th best liberal arts college in another US News ranking. Lastly, Fulbright names Kalamazoo College as one of the top producers of its grant recipients. And Kalamazoo College's Center for International Programs ensures that all students know about the full range of international opportunities on offer and even provides extensive help to students applying to spend part of their degree overseas.

  5. Bates College

    Lewiston, ME

    Out of all the educational institutions in the USA, Bates College's students receive the most Fulbright grants. This is impressive, as Fulbright, "is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world." US News also notes that 70% of the college's students study abroad. Lastly, Princeton Review considers the college to be the 19th best college for international programs in America. And on top of these accolades, Bates College is notable due to the sheer choice of its foreign programs. In fact, it offers over 200 opportunities for studying in different countries.

  6. Elon University

    Elon, NC

    Both students and academics are convinced that Elon University is a great choice for studying abroad. This is because Princeton Review's student-generated rankings place it at third in America for best study abroad programs. And, US News's faculty sourced list of the best international program colleges features Elon University and notes that the publication also considers it to be the number one southern university. US News's other list notes that 74% of Elon University's students study internationally. Elon University has dedicated centers in Dunedin, New Zealand; Florence Italy; London, UK; and Shanghai, China, where the college's faculty ensures that students are gaining unparalleled opportunities.

  7. University of Denver

    Denver, CO

    College Rank considers the University of Denver to have the 14th best study abroad programs of any American college. Princeton Review reports that the college's students completely agree and also names it the 14th best college for international programs. US News notes that the college has the 17th highest amount of students studying abroad, at 68%. And students at the University of Denver can easily find the best overseas program for them through an online application called DU Passport, which allows students to select from multiple options that correspond to their study aims.

  8. University of Richmond

    University of Richmond, VA

    62% of students that study at the University of Richmond spend time abroad, according to US News. The faculty members of many respected colleges are impressed by the international offerings that the college provides to these students, as its inclusion on US News's other list indicates. The source also notes that the college is ranked at joint 23rd on its site for national liberal arts colleges. The students also express strong levels of satisfaction with their international experience, and Princeton Review names the college the 12th best for study abroad programs overall. The University of Richmond really provides something for everyone. It has more than 75 programs around the world, which offer, "a complete portfolio of study abroad opportunities."

  9. Dickinson College

    Carlisle, PA

    This Pennsylvania-based college has impressed students and faculty in the methodology sources. US News features the college on its academic recommended study abroad colleges list, also noting that they consider it to be the joint 51st best national liberal arts college. US News's other list notes that 56% of Dickinson students study internationally. And Princeton Review's student-led ranking places the college at fifth for study abroad programs. Dickinson College has managed to gain such a strong reputation for foreign study due to how long it's been in the field. It's had global study and research centers for more than 50 years. These centers, "form a worldwide network of living laboratories from which students can trace the causes and consequences of global forces, examine differing policy responses to global change and assess and learn from successes and failures."

  10. Centre College

    Danville, KY

    This college has the smallest number of enrolled students on Princeton Review's best study abroad program colleges list, and it still manages to rank at 11th. US News also notes that it has the fourth highest percentage of students studying abroad in America, at 85%. US News also features it on the site's academic sourced list of the best international program colleges, where it also notes that the college is joint 46th on its national liberal arts colleges list. Some of the unique advantages that Centre College offers students are covering the cost of passports and providing stipends for overseas internships.

  11. Dartmouth College

    Hanover, NH

    44% of Dartmouth College's students study abroad in some form, according to US News. This figure is just one of the reasons why the academics rate the college highly on US News's other foreign study list. Additionally, College Rank considers it to be the 16th best college for international study programs. Dartmouth College's overseas study programs come in four different forms. There is Language Study Abroad; Foreign Study Abroad, which allows students to see artistic, historic and natural beauty areas that relate to their studies; Exchange Programs; and Other Transfer Credits, which are for programs not sponsored by the college's international department.

  12. University of San Diego

    San Diego, CA

    It's apropos that a college located only 24 miles away from the US/Mexico border has an international focus. US News notes that 51% of University of San Diego's students choose to study abroad. And these students have fulfilling experiences, as Princeton Review's student-led rankings place the college at 17th for best international programs. Lastly, the University of San Diego is College Rank's 25th best college for studying abroad. University of San Diego students have the opportunity to study in over 30 countries through 80 different programs. However, the pride of the college's overseas options is its Madrid Center, which is in the middle of the Spanish capital and has been running since 2014.

  13. Syracuse University

    Syracuse, NY

    This Upstate New York-based college sees 37% of its students study abroad, according to US News. And Syracuse University is also featured on US News's academic sourced list and on College Rank, where it places at 20th for international study colleges. While the college offers over 60 academic programs for studying in other countries, it has an elite list of locations that it specializes in. The cities in this list are Beijing, China; Florence, Italy; Hong Kong, China; Istanbul, Turkey; London, Britain; Madrid, Spain; and Santiago, Chile. These locations offer a program for students of almost every subject taught at Syracuse University.

  14. Hobart William Smith Colleges

    Geneva, NY

    The students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges are the most pleased in the country with their study abroad programs. This is because it tops Princeton Review's list of the most popular international study colleges. And Hobart and William Smith College have now topped Princeton Review's ranking for two years in a row, showing that it is offering consistently great foreign study opportunities. Fulbright reveals that in the last year, four of the college's students benefited from its grant, making the college a top producer of recipients. The international opportunities at the college offer, "niches for lots of different types of students," and, "non-classroom experience and learning opportunities." Overall, it offers more than 50 destinations on six continents.

  15. Emerson College

    Boston, MA

    Huffington Post names Emerson as the best study abroad program college in America. College Rank has a similar opinion, placing it at fifth on its list. The sources are especially impressed with Emerson's program based in Kasteel Well, The Netherlands. This program takes place in a 14th-century medieval castle and offers places to 85 students every fall and spring term. The college also provides shorter programs at this castle in the summer months. Over the course of study, students are immersed in European cultures and languages.

  16. University of Dallas

    Irving, TX

    US News states that 80% of students study abroad during their time at the University of Dallas. Fortunately, Princeton Review reports that these students are incredibly pleased with their experiences and rate it the fourth best international program college in America. The University of Dallas's international opportunities come in two forms, university-approved programs, where the course specifically offers the opportunity and has a partnership with an overseas institution; and third-party programs, where students have to seek out the opportunity and apply for college credit to the University of Dallas. The college's easier to enroll in approved programs are for studying modern languages or science. These programs take place in Costa Rica, Spain, Ecuador, France, Italy, and Belize.

  17. Bowdoin College

    Brunswick, ME

    Bowdoin students received the second most Fulbrightgrants from 2017 to 2018, getting only three less than the top college's students on the Fulbright list. Additionally, 54% of the college's total students study abroad, according to US News. It's appropriate that the college is so keen on international study, as one of the college's core values is for its students, "to be at home in all lands and all ages." This definitely appears to ring true, as there are many stories of students achieving great things overseas in locations as diverse as Sweden, Hungary, and India.

  18. Susquehanna University

    Selinsgrove, PA

    Almost the entire student population of Susquehanna University studies abroad during their degree. US News reports that the total amount of students studying abroad is 97%, making it the third highest college on its list. Additionally, Princeton Review's student rating generated list indicates that the vast majority of those undertaking international programs are pleased with their experiences, naming it the 16th best foreign study opportunities college in America. Susquehanna University offers international programs in three forms: GO Short, which takes place over a few weeks during the winter or summer break; GO Long, which takes place over a semester; and GO Your Own Way, where students curate a duration and area of study.

  19. Williams College

    Williamstown, MA

    Fulbright notes that Williams College was the university with the third highest number of students receiving its foreign exchange grants from 2017 to 2018. US News also notes that 45% of its students study abroad. Further research proves that there is indeed a range of unique international programs for Williams College students to participate in. These include studying nomadism, geopolitics and the environment in Mongolia; studying refugees, health and humanitarian action in Jordan; and studying conservation, ethics and environmental change in Cambodia.

  20. Earlham College

    Richmond, IN

    Earlham College has the 12th highest amount of students studying abroad, at 70%, according to US News. The college is also well regarded in College Rank, where it places at ninth on its foreign study list. One of the most interesting areas of Earlham's international study activities is its focus on academics in action. For example, its Border Studies Program explores issues related to, "transnational migration, neoliberal migration, the militarization of policing, and struggles for environmental justice, ethnic studies and indigenous rights." Excursions under this program take students to various areas of Mexico.

  21. Gettysburg College

    Gettysburg, PA

    Princeton Review considers Gettysburg College to be the ninth best college in America for study abroad opportunities. US News also notes that 58% of students study in foreign countries. And 95% of these students choose to study internationally via one of Gettysburg College's affiliated programs, where the college carefully vets and selects its offering. The affiliate programs also mean that students are charged at a comparable cost to spending the same amount of time studying on the Gettysburg campus and that students also continue to receive financial aid. The college currently has affiliated programs in 12 African nations, nine Asian/Pacific nations, 14 European nations, 11 Latin American nations, five Middle Eastern nations, and one Central American nation.

  22. Duke University

    Durham, NC

    College Rank considers Duke University as the 12th best college for studying abroad. US News's academic recommendations list also features Duke and notes that it's the site's ninth-best national university. Students at this college can study outside of America through Duke-In Programs, where the college's faculty is directly involved with study, and Duke-Approved Programs, where the program is overseen by a foreign university. However, if students find a program that they want to attend that is not either Duke-In or Duke-Approved, then they can petition the college's global education committee, meaning that any college across the globe is a potential destination.

  23. Pomona College

    Claremont, CA

    Pomona College ranks at joint eighth for most Fulbright Grants awarded to students from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, 46% of students study abroad, according to US News. The students that do go overseas come back with one of a kind experiences and incredible stories. For instance, Ethen Lund spent time in Amman, Jordan and said that "being in Jordan has given me a better appreciation of my own privileges and America's sizable (but incomplete) strides towards equality." And Ben Cohen spent time in St Petersburg, Russia and said, "After two years of finding my niche for what I love to study, experiencing it in the one place where I can really make sense of it all is a wonderful feeling."

  24. Kenyon College

    Gambier, OH

    Kenyon College has tied for at 10th for the most students receiving Fulbright Grants of any educational institution. And 43% of its students study abroad, US News reports. Kenyon has created especially strong programs in the South West UK city of Exeter and the Italian capital of Rome. The Exeter program has been running for over 40 years and works closely with the University of Exeter's Department of English to give students a greater understanding of the English language in its home country. The Rome program focuses on Italian art and culture and includes visits to Florence, Naples, Sicily and other areas of cultural interest.

  25. College of the Holy Cross

    Worcester, MA

    College of the Holy Cross's study abroad opportunities only appeal to some students, but for the ones that do travel, the experience is extensive. This is reflected in its methodology rankings. Fulbright notes that it's the fourth highest college for recipients of its grant, but US News notes that only 33% of overall students participate in international programs. In fact, many of the students that study abroad at the College of the Holy Cross travel to more than one country. For example, Margaret Goddard traveled to Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia; and Izzi Lambrecht traveled to Ireland, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

  26. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA

    Theacademics that US News has consulted name Pepperdine as one of the best colleges for studying abroad. Additionally, the source notes that it also ranks the college as the 46th best national university. College Rank considers the college to be the eighth best for foreign study. And Pepperdine has been running international programs longer than most colleges in America. The college's first study abroad program dates back to 1963, and today all of the college's five schools have international opportunities.

  27. Ithaca College

    Ithaca, NY

    US News reports that Ithaca College has a 32% study abroad rate, which is smaller than many colleges on this list. However, the students that do travel have an incredible experience. Huffington Post names the college's London program the sixth best foreign study course offered by any college in America. In fact, it's one of the oldest international programs based in London. And Ithaca College has an entire center in England's capital city, which is based in a Victorian house in the incredibly desirable borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

  28. Smith College

    Northampton, MA

    Smith College ranks in the top 10 for colleges where the most students received Fulbright Grants in 2017 to 2018, at joint eighth. And 39% of its students study abroad, according to US News. Smith College has been running its study abroad program for almost 100 years, so you can be certain that they've created some great and useful experiences. One of its more unique overseas opportunities is Smith in Geneva, where students get to live in the city that is home to the United Nations. In this program, students can take part in internships at international organizations, study at the University of Geneva or study international relations at the Smith Center.

  29. Georgetown University

    Washington, DC

    College Rank places Georgetown University at 18th on its best study abroad colleges list. Additionally, US News's academic sourced list names it as one of the best international program colleges and notes that it is the site's 20th best national university. And the college is likely to climb future rankings of the best American study abroad colleges, as it has recently launched a program that makes it easier for any student to go overseas, regardless of their background.Hoya Identities Abroad works with students to find the best opportunities for them and has dedicated recommendations for first-generation students, foreign students, religious students, LGBT students and much more.

  30. Connecticut College

    New London, CT

    Fulbright names Connecticut College as a top producer of recipients of its foreign exchange study grant. And College Rank names it the 17th best college for studying abroad. Additionally, the college has also won the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. When looking at the full list of programs that Connecticut College students can participate in, it's obvious to see why it has won the award. A student can easily choose to study almost anywhere in the world. From Russia to Mexico, the college has an international program!

By BVS Staff
July 2020

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