The Best Private Study Abroad Programs

isa logoOkay, so you have decided that you want to study abroad. You’ve picked your country and approved your decision through your university. The only problem is that your school does not offer foreign exchange to that country. What do you do?

Realize that it’s time to pick a private study abroad program.

There are many programs that cater to students who want to study abroad. The programs do tend to be a little more expensive than an average semester of college in the U.S., if you are attending a public school and paying in-state tuition. If you are attending a private school or are paying out-of-state tuition, the prices can be quite comparable.

Here are some of the best private study abroad programs, along with information about the countries and terms they offer.

1.    International Studies Abroad. This organization is my personal favorite. I have traveled to Costa Rica and Spain with this company and have never had anything but wonderful experiences and memories. ISA was founded in 1987 and currently has summer, semester, and full-year options in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, England, France, Italy, México, Morocco, Peru, and Spain.

ISA prides itself on providing personalized attention to every student and providing cultural opportunities to help students better appreciate the country they are studying in. Students also attend various excursions to different parts of the country to gain a better feel for the country as a whole.

2.    Global Learning Semester offers university-level courses in Argentina, China, England, France, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. GLS also plans on adding an additional nine countries to their list of offered programs in the near future. GLS offers specialized programs in both highly relevant and timely programs, such as the Globalization of Business or the European Union, and also in underserved areas of study, such as Medical Spanish or Byzantine Art.

Like ISA, GLS offers plenty of travel opportunities for students. What sets GLS apart is their specialized multi-country programs, which allow students to study in several countries as opposed to just one.

3.    Center for Study Abroad prides itself on offering low cost programs; in some cases, CSA is only one-quarterof the cost of other programs. CSA was founded in 1990 and offers programs in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, and Vietnam. This means CSA has the largest selection of countries, based on the programs I researched. Unfortunately, CSA cuts prices by not including excursions in its programs. Students must arrange their own travel, if they study abroad with CSA. However, the drastically cheaper prices make this worth the hassle for many students.

4.    Forum-Nexus is a traveling educational program that offers programs during summer and winter breaks. These programs are usually in January and June and July of each year. Forum-Nexus is different from other study abroad programs because it allows students to attend classes during the mornings, then visit various international companies during the afternoons. An emphasis is also placed on traveling.

Forum-Nexus offers programs based in Europe and South Africa. Students studying in Europe will be based in Italy or Spain and visit Greece , Italy, Paris, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey.

5.    Learning Programs International was founded in 1989 as a study abroad program for high school students. LPI offers programs in Costa Rica, England, France, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. Like ISA and GLA, LPI offers excursions for students who want to travel; these excursions are included in the program price. However, students are not allowed to travel on their own, due to safety considerations. Students earn college credit hours, and depending on the chosen program, can earn between two to six credit hours.

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Use this chart to compare the five programs described above.

No matter which company you choose, I am sure you will love your study abroad experience. Studying abroad is a wonderful way to learn about a different culture, experience things you have never imagined, and discover more about yourself as a world citizen. Enjoy your experience!

And for a little more advice on what to expect concerning pre-departure nerves, watch my Let’s Go to Spain video.

Also Read:

How to Stay Safe While Studying Abroad






13 Responses to “The Best Private Study Abroad Programs”

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  2. Blockhäuser says:

    I think it might be a little unfair to lump all groups in as being huge and unpersonalized. Granted, all of my experience has been with ISA, but both times, I have received absolutely wonderful, personalized attention from the directors, experienced parts of the culture I would never even have thought about, and learned more about myself and the people around me than I thought possible.

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  8. Simone says:

    Hello I am a student who is hoping to travel abroad soon. I was looking into traveling with CSA because it’s drastically cheaper than all of the other programs I’ve seen. The only problem is I’m not sure if they are a reliable company and if I’ll get what I pay for…what do they do for you? what is not included? is there anyone who has studied with them before and if so what did you think?? thanks!!!
    Simone

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  10. Kelsey says:

    Thanks Dana! I appreciate the suport! 🙂
    Eric, Yes, these are some of the most commonly used programs because they do offer programs in so many countries. However, when I went to Costa Rica with ISA two years ago, there were only 30 people in my group. I know that the groups in Granada, Spain and Valencia, Spain are both smaller groups. So, I think it might be a little unfair to lump all groups in as being huge and unpersonalized. Granted, all of my experience has been with ISA, but both times, I have received absolutely wonderful, personalized attention from the directors, experienced parts of the culture I would never even have thought about, and learned more about myself and the people around me than I thought possible. 🙂

  11. eric liljenstolpe says:

    I would say that the evaluation of the programs might be named “the best massive private study abroad providers”. In my experience there are many smaller study abroad programs that offer a more personalized experience, more contact with the host culture, better attention from the staff and better academics. If a student is looking for an experience with 50-100 other students in the same program, these programs are definitely the way to go, but if is student is looking for something somewhat different, then they should dig a little deeper in the country they want to study in. The challenge with the smaller programs is that often there is only one of them. they don’t exist in multiple countries and so they need to be researched on a country by country basis and they won’t pop up if you google: study abroad.

  12. Dana says:

    This is an awesome article! Very helpful.

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