Top 5 Study Abroad Destinations

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Each year, hundreds of thousands of American students depart for a study abroad experience. In recent years, the number of students taking part in international study programs has grown steadily. For many, the destination is the most important factor when selecting a program or organization. Here are our top 5 destinations for American students going abroad:

1. United Kingdom

The single largest destination for United States study abroad students is the United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In 2014, 13% of students going abroad chose the UK as their destination. The reasons for picking the United Kingdom are clear. The British speak the same language as Americans, which can make the cultural transition from the US a bit smoother. In addition, London is one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world, a factor which appeals to many students.


On the downside, however, the United Kingdom is a very expensive destination. The cost of living in the United Kingdom is significantly higher than the United States, and the exchange rate of the American dollar to the Great British Pound is very unfavorable for Americans. If you can get past the high cost, the United Kingdom is a great option for students looking to study internationally.

Popular study destinations in the United Kingdom include London, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge, Manchester, and Glasgow.

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2. Italy

The second most popular destination for American students, Italy brought in 10% of United States students studying abroad in 2014. Italy is known for its culture, history, architecture, and beautiful countryside. It is also just a quick trip to other European destinations, who share the same common currency.


Italy does present a language barrier to English speakers. However, many Italians do speak English, as it is a common language used in business across the European Union.

Popular locations to study in Italy include Rome, Venice, Florence, and Tuscany. Italy is also a top study abroad destination for music students.

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3. Spain

Spain is the third most popular destination for Americans studying abroad. In 2014, 9% of all American study abroad students elected to study in Spain. Spanish culture is known for its vibrant music, dance, and fashion, as well as relaxing afternoon siestas and late night dinners.


Depending on the city, English may be a very common (Barcelona) or less frequently used (Seville) language. As the world's second most widely spoken language, Spanish is a beneficial language to learn, both before and during your study abroad experience.

Popular study abroad destinations in Spain include beautiful cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville, which are all incredible locations for learning Spanish, exploring fascinating medieval history, and dining on tapas late into the night.

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4. France

France attracted 6% of American students going abroad in 2014. Located in the heart of Europe, France has deep cultural roots thanks to centuries of wine making and culinary excellence. France has also been at the center of some of the largest military conflicts in history, and the result can be seen in central Paris and in many locations around the country, such as the Musée de l'Armée and Napolean's tomb.


While many Parisian do speak English, learning basic French is an essential skill for speaking to locals. That said, even a non-French speaker can navigate the excellent public transit systems and enjoy some of the most amazing museums in the world.

Popular destinations to study outside of Paris include Marseille, Lyon, Rouen, and Toulouse.

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5. China

In a study conducted by the Institute of International Education, 5% of American students chose China as their study abroad destination. China is the most populated country in the world, and Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, so students seeking a career in international business may be wise to put China at the top of their study abroad list.


China is now one of the strongest economic, military, and business powers in the world. That, combined with a rich history at the center of Asian cuisine, art, and archaeology, makes China an excellent choice for students looking for adventure.

Top cities to study in China include Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Hong Kong.

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