Student Exchange, Study Abroad Program and Full Degree Overseas Demystified

Student Exchange, Study Abroad Program and Full Degree Overseas Demystified

There are a number of options available to students interested in studying overseas.  Generally, these options fall into one of three main categories: Exchange, Study Abroad or Degree Seeking Student/Full Degree Overseas. Finding which type of program is best for you is a great starting point in your study abroad preparations.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between each option:


 Exchange Program

Typically, an exchange program involves a partnership agreement that has been established between an international university and a university in a student’s home country.  Both institutions agree to switch or exchange students for a semester or even up to a year, hence the term ‘Exchange Program’:

  • You are still a student of your home institution while attending the international university.
  • Tuition fees are paid directly to your home institution.
  • You choose which courses to attend at the international university.
  •  The courses you study can be credited toward your degree.
  • At the end of the exchange program your grades are forwarded back to their home institution.
  • Duration varies depending on the program.
  • Room and board payments tend to be made to the international university (this should be confirmed with your home institution), and housing accommodations vary from program to program.
  • Exchange programs tend to be more hands-off and leave it up to the student to choose courses or plan excursions.

Study Abroad Program

A study abroad program is usually hosted by your home institution or a third party provider. Essentially, you apply to the program, choose your courses, and pay your tuition and accommodation fees directly to your home institution. Some important facts about a study abroad program:

  • Some programs involve selecting courses and others may not.
  • The focus of these programs vary greatly from program to program and can be major or research specific.
  • Your courses are faculty-led and conducted at a site chosen by your home institution or provider.
  • In some cases, the program is conducted on a foreign satellite campus or at a university where arrangements have been made to use the facilities.
  • Your credits do not need to be transferred because your home institution is hosting the program.
  • Some universities have a set price depending on the duration of the program and these programs can be quite affordable compared to an exchange program.
  • Study abroad programs are usually shorter in duration and may not give you the full immersive experience that an exchange program or full degree overseas can provide.

Full Degree Overseas

A degree seeking students applies directly to a program of study at an international university. Some important facts about pursuing a degree overseas:

  • You apply directly to the international university.
  • You attend an international university for the entirety of your degree.
  • You pay your tuition and pick all of your courses through the international university.
  • Depending on where you study, your room and board is provided by and paid directly to the foreign institution.
  • There is no need to transfer credits unless you decide to pursue a Master’s, MBA or PHD program in a different country.



The decision to study abroad should not be taken lightly. Make sure you research all of your options. If you are concerned about the cost of studying abroad, take a look at shorter programs offered through your university. Or you may want to consider a full degree overseas that may actually be more economical than attending a university in your home country.  Making a well thought-out decision before choosing your study abroad program can help ensure you get the most out of your endeavor.


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