The 15 Best Study Abroad Organizations

Posted by on in Study Abroad

There are thousands of cultural exchange programs all across the globe that can make your dreams of international study come true. The following study abroad program providers are some of the best in the business, awarding millions in scholarships each year and offering destinations from China to Argentina- and nearly everywhere in between. Whether you’re looking for a year-long program or a short summer stay, we’re sure that our list of the 15 best study abroad organizations has you covered!

1.  IES Abroad

“This was by far was the most amazing experience of my life. I have learned so much, not only about the Spanish culture, but also about myself. IES Abroad did an excellent job of integrating students into the culture.”

-Morgan Schaffer, Miami University, via (IES Abroad Madrid Summer)

Based out of Chicago, Illinois, IES Abroad aims to send over 6,000 college-aged students abroad every year. Not only does IES Abroad offer over 130 academic programs and internships in 30+ global destinations, but the organization provides more than $2.5 million in scholarships and merit-based aid each year. Housing options include homestays, residence halls with local university students, and apartments, and participants have the option to take classes alongside local students. Search for your ideal program by term, country, city, academic discipline, or internship.


“The program has been better than I ever expected. They have exceeded my expectations in every way. They stop at nothing to make sure your stay is the best it possibly can be. They provide trips to all the major historical sites in Spain, and the tour guides are excellent.”

-Jeremy Slocum, Penn State University, via (CIEE Summer Language and Culture in Seville, Spain)

CIEE is a 65-year-old leading nonprofit education organization offering both study abroad and work exchange programs to high school and college-aged students. College students can choose from nearly 200 study abroad programs in 40 countries, and high school students can choose from amongst cultural exchanges in 11 different countries: Australia, Chile, France, Ireland, Japan, Spain, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand. CIEE students attend local high schools and live with local host families. Each year, CIEE awards over $3 million in scholarships and grants. The CIEE site allows you to search for programs by discipline, term, country, city, and language of instruction.

3. CIS

“I chose CISabroad because their base office was located in the town over from me and they provided me with wonderful service right off the bat. They were wonderful with helping me decide where to go and then so helpful all throughout the process and experience abroad.”

-vrquill, University of Massachusetts, via (Intern in Barcelona)

CISabroad offers study abroad programs, international internships, and summer study abroad programs to college-aged students in 19 countries, with destinations in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Asia, South Africa, and Hawaii. CISabroad also offers programs by major (with options ranging from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to humanities, social sciences, and visual and performing arts). Host institutions include large, English-speaking universities, smaller, culture-based learning centers, and everything in between. CISabroad also offers study abroad scholarships and financial aid counseling. You can search for programs by country, term, or subject.


“I cannot rave enough about my study abroad experience with AIFS last spring semester. The greatest thing about the program was the staff. They helped make an easy transition for the students into a new country. They were also incredibly friendly and supportive. This program gave me the freedom to feel independent, but still go to the staff if I had any questions or concerns.”

-Gabriella, West Chester University, via (AIFS Study Abroad in Florence: Semester or Academic Year)

As a leader of cultural exchange and international educational opportunities, the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) has sent over 1.5 million people abroad since its establishment in 1964. Each year, the organization awards deserving students and universities with over $800,000 in financial support, grants, and scholarships, with funds available for both summer and semester programs. AIFS offers programs to college students in 20 countries across South America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India, and South Africa. High school students can choose from amongst programs in Costa Rica, France, Spain, or Italy. Use the program database to search by term or course.

5. CEA

“After spending six months in Spain, I can honestly say that Granada is my favorite place in the world. I stayed in a homestay, where I learned even more about Spanish customs and lifestyles. Over all, CEA equipped me with every tool necessary to make my experience unique and to this day I can clearly define my decision to study abroad as the best one that I have ever made."

-MarissaWahl, Western Washington University, via (CEA Study Abroad in Granada, Spain)

CEA was founded in 1997 with the goal of facilitating study abroad opportunities for U.S. and Canadian college-aged students interested in exploring global issues around the world. Every year, CEA sends thousands of students abroad, with programs in countries that include Argentina, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, and Spain. CEA commits more than $2 million per year to financial and scholarship programs, while also providing free resources for scholarship information. CEA’s “program search wizard” allows you to search programs by field of study, program length, program term, course subject, language of instruction, and destination.


“I absolutely loved studying abroad through the CAPA program. I spent 7.5 weeks in Sydney, Australia, and I learned so much. CAPA helped me prepare for the trip, helped me find an amazing internship, and the staff was always there in Sydney if we needed anything.”

-Lauren, Purdue University, via (CAPA Sydney: Study & Intern Abroad)

CAPA The Global Education network has been a trusted global leader in study abroad since 1972. The international education organization offers study abroad and internship programs to college students in Buenos Aires, Dublin, Florence, London, Shanghai, and Sydney. Depending on the program, a student may choose to reside in an apartment, dormitory, or homestay. For those needing financial assistance, CAPA offers a large variety of grants and scholarships, which include affiliate grants and need-based scholarships (ranging from $500 to $5,000). You can learn more about CAPA programs here.



“I couldn't imagine a better study abroad program! Everything from beginning to end is perfect with Sol Education Abroad! The staff is so friendly, professional, and aware of your needs. The variety of experiences included in the programs is amazing! You definitely get more than your money's worth!”

-Maemar K. Correa, via (Sol Education Abroad: Study Abroad in Grenada, Spain)

Established in 2005, Sol Education Abroad offers programs which aim to provide students with regular travel excursions, daily cultural activities, and interactive Spanish language and college credit classes. Study abroad and Spanish immersion programs are offered to both high school and college students in Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, and Mexico. Each participant will live with a local host family and have daily opportunities to develop his or her Spanish language skills in a natural setting. Sol honors any financial aid or scholarships and offers at least 50 annual scholarships, which range from $100 to $750. If you’re looking specifically for high school programs, you can find them here.



“Studying abroad in Galway with API was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I had a really wonderful study abroad experience, which was definitely augmented by their help. API also provided hands-off support that gave me a great amount of autonomy, but also gave me the ability to get any advice or help when I needed it.”

-leishice, University of Pittsburgh, via (API: Study Abroad National University of Ireland, Galway)

Academic Programs International (API) was founded with the objective of providing affordable study abroad programs for college students in the United States. Since 1977, API has sent more than 3,500 students and participants abroad annually to over 50 cities across 29 countries. API accepts all forms of financial aid and awards approximately $450,000 each year in study abroad scholarships, which range from $250 to $1,000 per student. You can use API’s program finder to search programs by country, city, session, focus, and/or language.



“I had a wonderful time with IFSA Butler, they did a great job preparing students for the abroad experience as well as facilitating us when in Sydney. I really enjoyed the level of dedication they put into our wellbeing and happiness abroad. They made it easy to get housing and meet people in and out of the program, but also allowed us to do our own thing if we wanted to.”

-McKenna, John Hopkins University, via (IFSA-Butler University of Sydney)

The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 to provide quality study abroad opportunities for North American undergraduates. IFSA-Butler offers programs in Argentina, Australia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, England, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Peru, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Sharjah UAE, Spain and Wales. In order to encourage students to study abroad, the organization awards work-to-study grants, general scholarships ($500 for summer programs, $1,500 for semester programs and $2,500 for full year programs), and country and program-specific scholarships.



“DIS was the perfect combination of academics and cultural exploration. It gave me the opportunity to experience, learn, & grow personally in a way that could not be done on campus. The program was made even better by the people; everyone was so positive!”

-Grace Comier, Carleton College, via

DIS is a non-profit study abroad institution, established in 1959, which provides cultural engagement opportunities for undergraduate (usually junior or senior) students from selective North American universities. Semester, summer, and academic-year programs are taught in English and over 300 courses are offered between DIS’s Copenhagen and Stockholm locations. The organization awards numerous study abroad and leadership scholarships on a need and diversity basis. As a DIS student, you will be enrolled in one of three academic programs based on your choice of a core course. Once you have selected your core course, you will be free to choose from amongst the elective courses offered.

11. AFS

"My gap year abroad in Norway was a fantastic and life-changing experience. I found family, learned about camping, skiing, and became a competent Norwegian speaker and writer. The AFS experience is amazing because of the international friends and family you get. I was able to form close bonds with people from all over the world!”

-Beryl, via (AFS- High School Gap year Program in Norway)

AFS Intercultural Programs, formerly known as the American Ambulance Field Service, was established in 1915 as a nonprofit organization for intercultural learning. AFS offers semester and year-long programs, 4-8 week summer programs, and community service programs to high school students and recent high school graduates. AFS participants can choose from over forty destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and Oceania. Study abroad programs vary greatly in price, ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $16,000, depending on the program type and destination. Check out the AFS-USA scholarships page- the organization awards $3 million annually through merit-and-need-based scholarships!


“I gained so much from this time abroad, not only about new language and cultures, but also about myself. This program was perfect for that because it allows students to have the freedom to do what they want to do in their school or village, but also is structured enough that they have somebody checking in on them and making sure everything is alright.”

-Carolyn W., via (YFU Programs in Germany)

For the past 64 years, over 260,000 YFU students and host families have benefited from the international nonprofit’s cultural immersion expertise. With national organizations in more than 55 different countries, YFU is able to offer youth programs to high school students and recent graduates, young adult programs to those ages 18-26, and adult study tours to those ages 19 and up. High school students and recent graduates can choose from over 100 year, semester, summer, or specialty programs in more than 40 countries. Young adults may select from gap year programs, volunteer and service learning programs, and internships. If you need help funding your cultural exchange, check out YFU’s Martha Bigliani Scholarship Fund or these resources for funding your trip.

13. SAI

“My experience in London at the University of the Arts was amazing and something I'll truly take with me in everything I do! The SAI staff was very friendly and welcoming, and they made me feel like I had some people looking out for me (almost like parents) while I was in London. I absolutely loved the planned SAI trips that are scheduled throughout the term - they helped bring the group together and ensured that we got to see some of the major attractions in London.”

-Kenzi, via (SAI Programs: Study Abroad at University of the Arts London)

Since 1995, SAI has provided college students from all universities and countries with the chance to study abroad at some of Europe’s top schools for English-speaking students. Ranked “Top Study Abroad Provider” by, SAI offers a wide variety of academic studies: business, design, art history, environmental studies, studio arts, political science, international relations, and more. An SAI student has the choice to study in Florence, Rome, London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Tuscany, Sorrento, or Siena. In addition to study abroad programs, SAI offers a high school summer program, internships, gap year programs, BA and MA programs, career programs, and specialty programs. Each academic year, SAI awards scholarships to applicants who meet certain requirements based on both financial need and academic merit. You may also qualify for one of these program discounts!


“The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) goes above and beyond what you would expect out of a study abroad program. It was the small things like bringing us to a Rugby game during the semester, or sending us events from city we lived in for each month, or just grabbing a coffee with us to chat about everything that was happening that really made them stand out as an awesome program.”

-Jan Jan, Augsburg College, via (Education Abroad Network- Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Australia and New Zealand)

Since 1995, The Education Abroad Network has worked with partner universities to run study-based programs in the South Pacific and Pacific Rim. Destinations include Southeast Asia, South Korea, China, Australia, and New Zealand, with many locations offering semester, full year, and summer programs, as well as internships and degree programs. TEAN awards scholarships for both semester and summer study abroad programs across the Asia Pacific in order to provide more students with the opportunity to study internationally. These scholarships include Asia summer scholarships, Australia scholarships, New Zealand scholarships, diversity scholarships, and the TEAN Full Ride Scholarship, which includes tuition, program fees, housing, and return trip airfare!


“I felt completely safe and sound (being a young 20-something female and the baby of the family, this was important to both myself and my family). This is partly due to ISA's on-site 24 hour staff and partly the city of London, itself. I knew that if I ever got into a jam, I could simply call one of the three ISA local staff members, and they would be ready to assist me anyway they knew how.”

-Madison, Texas A&M University, via (ISA Study Abroad in London, England)

For over 25 years, International Studies Abroad has provided North American and Canadian college students with opportunities to explore the world on a global scale. ISA offers programs at accredited schools and universities in over 30 destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Students may choose from semester or trimester programs, summer or academic year programs, gap year programs, and internships. ISA awards over $850,000 in scholarships and grants each year. If you require extra financial assistance, be sure to check out these free financial aid and creative fundraising resources!


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • rss