Skip to main content
3 answers
Asked Viewed 1099 times Translate

What are the differences between being an international student and studying abroad?

Several colleges offer studying abroad programs for their students around their Junior year. I've noticed lately that there are colleges that are from a country outside my own that offer an enrollment application for out-of-country students, and I was wondering about how the two could be different in terms of applying and college experience. international study-abroad experiences

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

100% of 5 Pros
100% of 2 Students

3 answers

Updated Translate

Robert’s Answer


I'll share with you my experience and see if it helps. Let me first put it in perspective of a high school environment, since I am familiar with it, and I think it will help illustrate the differences. For the past three years, I have been a 'host family' for two Korean students. When they came to the States, they enrolled in a Christian k-12 school. I was surprised when they told me they weren't religious at all. I didn't understand why they didn't just go the same local public schools my kids go to.
For them to attend the local public school- that school has to participate in an exchange program. Students from here go there, students from there come here. Since there wasn't such an exchange program in place where I live with their school in Korea - their families decided to simply pay for them to attend a private school here in the States. The designation on their student Visas is "International Student."

I believe that a "study abroad" program is similar to the public school version of an "Exchange Student" program. So to participate you enroll (and pay your tuition) at your chosen college/university here, and they make the enrollment and tuition arrangements for you at the international college/university. Sometimes this is preferable because credits transfer easily between the US and the international school.

The 'International student' designation is more frequently used when someone chooses to attend a college/university in another country. And the enrollment (and tuition) arrangements are made directly with the college/university in the other country.

Please note- the definitions and descriptions I provided above certainly can vary from school to school.

Hope this helps,

Thank you for the info Teal K.

Thank you for the info Maeve K.

This is really interesting! Martina P.

This it a really good question thanks for the info Matt G.

Thank you for answering my question! I believe that it will eventually help me out in the future when I start applying for college. Julie M.

Thanks for the info! Andrea H.

100% of 2 Students
Updated Translate

Brian’s Answer

An International Student is someone who is a registered student, usually full time I would expect, at a college/university in another country. For example, a U.K. or Japanese student studying at The Ohio State University in the U.S.; or a U.S. student studying at Oxford in the U.K.

Study Abroad typically refers to a student who is studying or interning in a program for one or two semesters outside their college/university home country.
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Rob’s Answer

I have been both an international student and a study abroad (exchange) student. As an international student, you are enrolled in the school you're attending to complete your studies there--meaning, if you're from the US and you enrolled in a secondary school or university in France you would receive your degree/diploma from that school in France. As a study abroad student, you would need a sponsoring school in your home country and your degree/diploma would come from your "home" school, not the foreign one.

There are generally different: requirements for admission, language proficiency, housing, and course offerings between the 2 types. As an international student you'll be held to the same or very similar requirements for admissions and academic performance as someone from the country where the school is located. As a study abroad student, your "home" school or the exchange program will set those admission and academic requirements, independent of the foreign school's requirements. If the local language of the school is not your native language you may have to pass a proficiency test before being an international student. However, many study abroad programs are designed to learn the foreign language and may require little to no proficiency--depending upon the program.