Where to Study Abroad: Top 10 Destinations for U.S. Students

Italy, the U.K. and Spain are the most popular study abroad countries for Americans.
Eliza Haverstock
By Eliza Haverstock 
Updated
Edited by Cecilia Clark
americans traveling in europe

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The country you choose to study abroad in will determine the language you’re immersed in, the university experience you’ll have — and the cost of your study abroad program.

The world is your oyster, but 73% of the nearly 189,000 U.S. students who studied abroad in 2021-22 opted for programs in Europe, according to a November 2023 report published by the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education. About 10.3% of study abroad students went to Latin America or the Caribbean, 5.3% did a program in the Middle East or Africa and 4.7% studied in Asia, the report found.

Looking for inspiration? Consider the 10 most popular study abroad destinations for U.S. college students, along with their average costs.

1. Italy

From the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, Italy has a rich history. Today, it’s the fifth-most visited country in the world. Cities like Florence, Bologna, Milan and Rome are popular destinations for U.S. students.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 30,610.

  • Average semester program cost: $17,238.

  • Currency: Euro (€).

2. United Kingdom

If you want to skip the foreign language aspect of study abroad, consider the U.K. It’s home to top universities like the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics and Political Science and The University of Edinburgh.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 27,503.

  • Average semester program cost: $18,041.

  • Currency: Pound sterling (£).

3. Spain

Whether you choose Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or another city, Spain offers immersive study abroad opportunities that can help you boost your language skills. Generally, it also offers a lower cost of living and warm weather.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 25,348.

  • Average semester program cost: $14,338

  • Currency: Euro (€).

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4. France

Outside of Paris, French cities like Lyon, Strasbourg and Lille host thousands of American students each year. Depending on your program, you might study alongside other U.S. or international students, or you could integrate directly into a French university.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 14,397.

  • Average semester program cost: $12,758.

  • Currency: Euro (€).

5. Germany

Programs are typically taught in German, but there are also English-language options. You’ll encounter diverse international perspectives if you study in Germany: With 83 million residents, it has the largest population of any European Union state — and 13% come from other countries.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 7,644.

  • Average semester program cost: Not available.

  • Currency: Euro (€).

6. Ireland

Ireland is another option if you want to study in English. Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, hosts major universities like Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. Students may also study abroad in smaller cities like Cork and Galway.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 7,031.

  • Average semester program cost: $13,952.

  • Currency: The Republic of Ireland uses the euro (€); Northern Ireland, where you may likely visit, uses the pound sterling (£).

7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has plenty to offer. More than 25% of the country is protected national park land, and the capital city, San José, is home to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the United Nations University of Peace. Studying abroad in Costa Rica is also a great way to improve your Spanish.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 4,751.

  • Average semester program cost: $8,080.

  • Currency: Colon (₡); U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Costa Rica.

8. Greece

If you’re intrigued by ancient history, consider studying abroad in Athens, the capital of Greece and its largest city. University courses are often taught in English, but you can still immerse yourself in the local culture and language.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 4,484.

  • Average semester program cost: Not available.

  • Currency: Euro (€).

9. Denmark

Most study abroad programs in Denmark are taught in English, so you won’t need to worry about a language barrier. The capital of Copenhagen is a frequent destination, particularly for students who choose third-party study abroad programs. Watch out for a high cost of living, though.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 4,393.

  • Average semester program cost: Not available.

  • Currency: Danish krone (kr).

10. South Korea

Korea contains about 200 four-year universities. Yonsei University, a major institution based in Seoul, is popular with exchange students. Most courses are taught in Korean, but students also have English-language options.

  • No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: 4,304.

  • Average semester program cost: $9,684.

  • Currency: Won (₩).

Sources

No. of U.S. study abroad students, 2021-22: Open Doors 2023 Report on International Educational Exchange, U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education, Nov. 2023.

Average semester cost: GoAbroad.com, 2018.

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