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10 High School Study Abroad Programs You Should Check Out

Studying abroad while still in high school is a great way to broaden your horizons and seek a shift in perspective while you experience life outside your comfort zone. 

Participating in study abroad programs provides you with the unique opportunity for personal and academic growth, allowing you to immerse yourself in different cultures, languages, and perspectives. 

By stepping outside your comfort zone, studying abroad will help you gain invaluable global awareness and develop essential life skills such as adaptability, independence, and resilience. 

Additionally, multiple universities have their own exchange programs for freshman, sophomores, and juniors, and having former experience under your belt can definitely help you land a university-level study abroad experience!

Not to mention, it is a testimony to your independence and pursuit of knowledge outside your normal horizons, which will prove to be an impressive addition to any college or university application. 

In this blog, we have covered 10 of the best study abroad programs for high school students.

Offering over 100 courses in 5 amazing locations (Oxford, Cambridge, Barcelona, Paris, and New York), Oxbridge Academic Programs offer the opportunity to learn in amazing locations with flexible schedules. Oxbridge Academic Programs also offer three different curriculums that span either 4 weeks, 2 weeks, or 1 week, meaning you will be able to find the dates and programs that work best for you and your schedule.

With a focus on small class sizes, personalized attention, and a rigorous academic curriculum, Oxbridge Academic Programs foster a dynamic learning environment that encourages critical thinking and academic excellence. Beyond the classroom, students have the chance to explore historic campuses, engage in vibrant cultural activities, and form lasting connections with like-minded peers from around the globe. 

Location: Oxford, Cambridge, Barcelona, Paris, and New York. 

Cost: Depends on which program and dates you choose. 

Eligibility: Students aged 13-18.

Dates & Deadlines: Both program dates and application deadlines vary depending on which program you wish to attend. See the bottom of this page here

The Smithsonian has been dedicated to inspiring children through the pursuit of knowledge and exploration since 1846. As the world's largest museum, the Smithsonian serves as an unparalleled source of expertise. Combining the Institution's extensive knowledge and global influence, Smithsonian Student Travel programs were created to align with its mission of fostering scientific understanding, cultural awareness, and global perspectives that empower positive change.

Each of the Smithsonian’s Student Travel programs are meticulously designed around a distinct and pertinent topic, drawing inspiration from the Smithsonian's impactful work. Themes span from climate change to aerospace technology, to conservation and architectural design. As a student, you will travel to and learn in locations where these lessons can come to life while deepening your understanding of the world’s collective past, actively engage with the present, and cultivate the essential tools to shape a meaningful and informed future.

Location: Find which of the fourteen locations speak to you here.

Cost: Cost varies depending on which country/city you choose. 

Eligibility: 9th-12th grade students. 

Dates & Deadlines: Program dates and application deadlines also vary depending on which of the 13 programs you decide on. 

The U.S. Department of State offers this unique and fully funded program for American high school students to study abroad from two weeks to an academic year. 

As a member, you will live with host families, engage with local schools, and gain skills to be competitive in the global workforce. Through the U.S. Department of State’s individual programs like National Security Language Initiative for Youth and the Future Leaders Exchange Program, you will not only expand your global perspective, but expand your political perspective. This program would be especially great for high school students looking to become involved in government after attending university. 

Location: Depending on which study abroad program you pursue, you will have your pick of over 10 countries to choose from.

Cost: The U.S. Department of State’s Study Abroad scholarship covers the cost of this study abroad program. 

Eligibility: High school students. 

Dates & Deadlines: Dates and application registration deadlines vary. 

CIEE's high school study abroad program opens a world of transformative experiences for young learners. Designed to broaden horizons and foster cultural understanding, CIEE offers diverse programs that immerse high school students in the heart of different countries. Participants have the opportunity to live with host families, enhance their foreign language skills, and gain an authentic understanding of local customs.

CIEE's commitment to global education ensures that students not only excel academically, but also develop a new understanding of the globe that will serve them well in an increasingly interconnected world. With a focus on safety, cultural engagement, and personal growth, this study abroad program is a gateway to a richer understanding of the world and a foundation for a lifetime of intercultural competence.  

Location: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, and Spain. 

Cost: There is a $1,000 acceptance fee, but program fees vary. 

Eligibility: High school students. 

Dates & Deadlines: CIEE program dates and application deadlines change with each program. See the details for each program here

School Year Abroad places an emphasis on learning about the country you visit, rather than just learning in it. SYA programs are designed to meet clear, achievable and observable objectives. These programs are tied to the surroundings, people and cultures of the host countries and make sure students are “explicitly active and participatory” by including major involvement in the outside community. You will have an easier time applying to and qualifying for SYA if you attend one of their Member Schools, however only 40% of students who travel the globe through SYA attended these schools so make sure to apply even if you do not see your high school on this list. SYA also offers year-long, semesterly, and summer study abroad options. If you do not wish to miss a semester of in-person study at your school, you could opt for their summer option and still learn abroad. 

Location: France, Italy, and Spain. 

Cost: Depending on which country you decide to travel to, the cost will vary.

Eligibility: 9th-12th grade students. 

Dates & Deadlines: Find the dates and deadlines for France, Italy, and Spain

Greenheart Travel is your passport to a meaningful and transformative travel experience. Committed to fostering cultural exchange, community engagement, and personal growth, Greenheart Travel offers a diverse range of programs that go beyond traditional travel. Whether you're looking to teach English abroad, embark on a volunteer adventure, or immerse yourself in a language learning journey, Greenheart Travel provides the tools and support to make your travel dreams a reality.

With a focus on sustainability and responsible travel, Greenheart Travel programs are designed to create positive impacts for both the participants, and the communities they engage with. The organization believes in the power of travel to not only broaden individual horizons, but also to build bridges between cultures and promote understanding on a global scale.

Location: See here for a list of locations. 

Cost: $5,000. 

Eligibility: High School Students. 

Dates & Deadlines: All dates & application deadlines vary on where and when you plan to travel. See Greenheart’s application portal here

If you are contemplating taking a gap year following your high school graduation, or just looking to take a pause during your high school years, Carpe Diem Education is for you. This program is designed for students who want to take advantage of the pre-college chaos and travel before locking into their university studies. 

With a philosophy grounded in self-discovery and community engagement, Carpe Diem Education encourages students to step out of their comfort zones, explore new perspectives, and contribute meaningfully to the communities they encounter. Carpe Diem’s programs combine adventure, service learning, and academic exploration to create a more holistic approach to education that goes beyond textbooks.

Location: Carpe Diem travels to over 20 countries, see more here

Cost: $3,400 - $5,600.

Eligibility: High school students.

Dates & Deadlines: Carpe Diem accepts applications on a rolling basis until three weeks prior to program start date.

YES Abroad, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, is a prestigious study abroad program offering American high school students the chance to fully immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of cultures across the globe. With a commitment to fostering cross-cultural understanding, YES Abroad provides students with the opportunity to spend an academic year living with host families, attending local schools, and actively engaging with communities.

This transformative experience not only enhances language skills but also cultivates a nuanced appreciation for diverse perspectives and ways of life. By living with a host family and attending a local school, YES Abroad students promote a mutual understanding between the United States and the host country through the lasting relationships formed by YES students and the local community.

Location: See YES Abroad’s location map here

Cost: The YES Abroad scholarship covers the entire cost of this program. 

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Dates & Deadlines: Applications are due December 6, 2023 at 4pm ET

Whether you're seeking a semester abroad, a summer language immersion, or an internship experience, API's offerings are designed to broaden horizons, enhance language proficiency, and foster personal and academic growth. API stands out for its emphasis on cultural immersion, ensuring that students not only study in a new environment but also actively engage with local communities. 

API is also unique in how it places a heavy emphasis on student enjoyment, with in-country resident directors who are with you every step of the way, ensuring your safety, designing culturally-relevant excursions and available to help with any issues that may arise, 24×7 and housing that is not only cheap, but attractive and convenient. API’s programs are tailored to offer a balance between academic rigor and experiential learning, allowing participants to explore new perspectives, build cross-cultural connections, and develop a global mindset.

Location: See API’s location maps here

Cost: Cost varies, see here for a price breakdown. 

Eligibility: High school students. 

Dates & Deadlines: Dates and deadlines vary, but deadlines for upcoming programs can be found here and you can apply here.

Centro Mundolengua is a prestigious study abroad program based solely in Spain that offers a diverse range of opportunities for students and educators alike to explore the richness of the Spanish language and culture. From language immersion courses and customized school trips to internships and after school programs, Centro Mundolengua is a great option for students who are fluent in, or want to be fluent in, Spanish. 

Situated in vibrant cities like Seville and Madrid, Centro Mundolengua ensures that participants not only enhance their language skills, but also engage deeply with Spanish traditions, history, and daily life. The programs are designed to foster cross-cultural understanding and provide a firsthand experience of the diverse Spanish-speaking world.

Location: Sevilla, Madrid, and Cadiz.

Cost: Cost varies depending on which program you decide to pursue. 

Eligibility: High School students. 

Dates & Deadlines: Programs and application deadlines depend on which location you choose and for how long. See this page for details.

If researching and writing about these opportunities is just as exciting to you as studying abroad would be, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students, founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

Mandy Brenner is a current junior at Harvard University. She is concentrating in History and Literature and loves to read and write in her free time.

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1 Comment

Arthur Davido
Arthur Davido
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