Why More Students Are Choosing Short-Term Study Abroad Programs

April 22 , 2019

Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary

Short-term study abroad programs (i.e., those of 8 weeks in length or less) are largely responsible for the year over year growth in study abroad participation of American university students worldwide. According to IIE’s Open Doors report on international education, during the 2016-2017 academic year there were 40,000 more students who participated on short-term study abroad programs compared to five years before. In fact, short-term programs reflect 64.6 percent of the total number of American study abroad students each year.

We believe there are many factors that influence a students decision to study abroad and the many options they have to choose from. When it comes to short-term study abroad programs we’ve identified the top three reasons why students select these programs and why your organization should convey these benefits to potential study abroad students. Read on to find out why more students are going the route of a short-term study abroad program.


The cost of higher education in the United States increases each year, which adds a burden to students and families who need to cover these costs in order for students to obtain their degree. As the cost of an education increases, additional expenses such as studying abroad, may lead many students to opt out of the experience completely or seek lower cost options that will not cause them a large amount of debt.

According to IIE, the average total cost of studying abroad is around $18,000 for a full semester program. This cost also tends to increase when factoring in other living expenses, travel and related costs. Short-term programs are an excellent option for students who may not have the means to afford $20,000+ for a semester abroad, which may be compounded on top of their home university tuition.

Many short-term and faculty-led programs, which are offered and operated by a student’s home university, often times are able to provide a lower cost option to students in a significantly less expensive range (dependent on length, inclusions, etc.).


For many students in order to stay on track for graduation, there is not the possibility of spending an entire semester away based on their degree requirements. Fall and spring breaks, January and May Terms, and summer programs allow students who might otherwise be unable to participate in a program the chance to have a study abroad experience that won’t affect their graduation timeline.

As mentioned previously, fitting in a short-term program into a students busy schedule allows the flexibility they need to participate, while keeping them on track and gaining new hands-on experience and exposure t0 a different culture.

Group Size & Dynamic

Typically, short-term programs consist of smaller groups and therefore provide students with the chance of more hands-on learning alongside their professor and related faculty. These smaller groups also lend themselves to students making meaningful connections and developing a bond with their fellow students.

We frequently hear back from past students about the long-lasting friendships they made during their short-term study abroad program and how they continue to be friends to the present day.

What other reasons have you heard from your students as to why they chose a short-term study abroad program? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re ready to start planning your next short-term program, contact us to see if we can provide any services at a lower cost to your organization and students.

Program Development

Road Map To Your Faculty-Led Program

Planning your faculty-led study abroad program and don’t know where to start? As experienced tour providers, we’ve laid out your first three, simple steps that you need to begin thinking about for your program. Download our Road Map to Your Faculty-Led Program to get started today.

Sammi DiBacco

Sammi DiBacco