Virginia Tech®home

Find Your Program


  • REFLECT - Why, what, where, and when? - Questions to Guide Your Search
  • RESEARCH- What are my options? - Program Types and Options Explained
  • CONNECT - Who do I talk to? : Campus Resources & Partners
  • APPLY 

Reflecting on what is most important to you in a study abroad experience is the first step to help you choose a study abroad program. Here are some questions for self-reflection to consider in order to select a program that aligns with your goals, interests, and needs.

Loading player for

General Considerations

  • Why do you want to study abroad? What do you hope to learn or gain from being abroad? 
  • How far outside of your comfort zone are you willing to go?
    • Are you comfortable traveling or living by yourself?
    • Would you feel comfortable in a place where very few people speak English?
    • Do you prefer to study with other VT students, other Americans, international students, local students, or a combination of these?
  • Do you prefer independence in planning, or a pre-planned experience?
    • Some program types pre-arrange your classes, housing, excursions, and travel logistics (i.e. Faculty Led and Study Abroad Provider Programs)
    • Semester Exchanges and Autonomous Study programs allow you to arrange for your housing and meals (cook for yourself or purchase a meal plan) and plan your own excursions and travel.
  • How might you explore your personal background or identity (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic heritage, etc.) in a new cultural context? 
  • What challenges do you anticipate? Which of your strengths will enable you to adapt and meet these challenges?

Academic & Timing Considerations

  • Which term is the best fit for you to go abroad? For how long? 
    • Full Semester: From a financial perspective, these programs tend to be more cost-effective, giving you more time abroad for a lower cost per week
    • Summer, Winter, and Spring Break: Short-term programs may be a good fit for students who cannot financially or academically arrange a semester away from campus
    • If you go abroad early, you often have the opportunity to go abroad a second (and third!) time. 
  • How many in-major classes do you need during your time abroad? Do you have a lot of flexibility to take Pathways classes, or will you need to choose a program that fulfills specific requirements to stay on track academically?


  • Most programs require a 2.5 minimum GPA. 
  • Most programs are open to students who have completed two semesters of college
    • Freshmen can go abroad short-term faculty-led programs

Financial Considerations

  • What is the cost for the program you’re interested in, and what funding sources will you use to pay for the program?
    • Costs depend on type of program, program fee, the cost of living in the host country, transportation, meals, and personal expenses
    • Did you some countries study abroad tuition costs less than a semester at VT? 
    • Do you receive financial aid? Are you applying VA benefits to your program?
    • Some types of Financial Aid can be applied to study abroad. Read more at our Financial Aid page here.
    • Check with the Financial Aid office for more information.

Language & Location Considerations

  • What preferences do you have related to location? Big city or small town; modern or historical; rural or urban?
  • Is there a particular city/country that attracts you?
  • Do you want to study in English or in the local language?
  • Think creatively about your language skills. For example, if you speak French, you can study in France, but consider Canada or a Francophone country in West Africa. 

Personal & Identity-Based Considerations

  • Do you have any medical, physical, psychological, or other special conditions that could affect your experience abroad? 
  • What accommodations would a host university or program be able to offer you abroad? 
    • If you need or want to speak with someone about your circumstances, please contact the study abroad office to set up an appointment with a staff member or coordinate with Services for Students with Disabilities
  • Do you have dependents, or are a non-traditional student? Our office can help identify suitable programs.

What are My Study Abroad Options? - Program Types Explained

It’s important to understand that there are not only a variety of destinations you can study abroad, but there is a variety of ways to study abroad, too. 

Read the sections on this page to learn more about the different kinds of study abroad programs you can choose as a Hokie.

Review our Comparison Chart to see the differences between each program type.

What is a...

Faculty-Led programs are usually designed by VT faculty and sponsored by a specific department. Many of them are short term programs (Summer I, Winter Break, Spring Break, etc.), however there are a few semester-long Faculty-Led programs. They often have a specific list of courses for which students will earn credit, but many of them are open to all majors. Students pay VT tuition and comprehensive fees for Faculty-Led programs, in addition to a program fee for pre-planned housing, transportation, and excursions

Considerations: minimal planning required by student; housing (and often some meals) included in the program fee; cultural excursions organized by faculty leader; travel with other VT students and faculty; VT credits, so you pay VT tuition for the credits you earn, and receive a letter grade

Find these programs on the Program Search tab. Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page. 


Virginia Tech has forged partnerships with 60 universities across the world that engage in student exchange. VT exchange students “switch” places with a student at a partner university, paying their tuition and fees to VT while they study at the partner university. Exchange programs are usually semester-long, but some students choose to do a summer exchange or a full academic year. Students receive transfer credit for their courses, so their grades do not impact their GPA. Although we must maintain an exchange balance which can mean limited spots, we try to place students at one of their top choice universities.

Considerations: the chance to live and study like a local student; partner universities all over the world; course offerings for any major;  transfer credit--grades do not impact GPA; more options for courses; pay VT tuition, so it can be very cost-effective for in-state students; certain exchanges tend to be competitive; longer application process; some planning required by the student.

Find these programs on the Program Search tab. Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page. 


Virginia Tech is a member of ISEP, a non-profit educational organization that expands students’ study abroad options. ISEP has a network of about 170 universities for reciprocal student exchange. Students who participate in an ISEP exchange pay their tuition and fees to VT and receive transfer credit for their courses (grades do not impact GPA). ISEP will try to place students in one of their top choice universities, depending on exchange space and academic need.

Considerations: high immersion level; more options for programs; offerings for any major;  transfer credit--grades do not impact GPA; pay VT tuition, so it can be very cost-effective for in-state students; some programs may allow you to choose your own housing; additional fees must be paid to ISEP

Find these programs on the Program Search tab. Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page. 

In addition to exchanges, ISEP also offers direct enrollment programs. The main difference with ISEP Direct is that students pay tuition to their host university, instead of paying to VT. Students still receive transfer credits for their courses. Students who do ISEP Direct programs are guaranteed placement at the university of their choice, unlike with an exchange program.

Considerations: high immersion level; more options for programs; host university tuition may be cheaper than VT tuition; cost-effective option for out-of-state students;  transfer credit--grades do not impact GPA; some programs may allow you to choose your own housing; tuition costs on ISEP Direct are usually more expensive than in-state tuition at VT, so it’s best for out-of-state students; additional fees must be paid to ISEP.

Find these programs on the Program Search tab. Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page. 


Many non-VT affiliated organizations administer study abroad programs and act as intermediaries for logistics like housing and transcripts. They often have onsite staff who offer orientation, support services, excursions, and cultural activities. Many offer a range of program lengths, from semester-long to short term programs. Students pay tuition directly to the program provider and receive transfer credit for their courses. Students apply directly through the Provider’s website, but they must also register through the Global Education Office..

Considerations: high immersion level; transfer credit--grades do not impact GPA; placement is usually guaranteed; programs available for all terms; variety of programs available; many times additional insurance is provided; some programs may allow you to choose your own housing; cultural excursions included; the support team that you have (the third party equivalent to the trip leaders of a faculty-led) might be local residents and experts on the location where you’re abroad; opportunity to meet people outside of VT; additional planning to ensure courses are transferable to VT

Find these programs on the Program Search tab. Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page.  


These programs are specially selected study abroad provider and direct enroll programs that departments and colleges at Virginia Tech have determined are a great fit for VT students. Usually they align well with a specific college or area of study, but some are open to all students. Most are a semester long, but some, like the GREEN Program, are short-term. Each is unique, and might be the perfect fit for you depending on your intended course work and destination. 

Benefits: many of the benefits of a third-party or autonomous study program; a unique program that your college or department has determined is a good fit for your academic area

Considerations: each Partner Program has unique considerations based on their application process, college/department supporting the program, and specific program details

Find these programs on the Program Search tab. Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page. 


These programs are for students who feel confident planning their own experience abroad by applying directly to a host university for a semester. Students apply and pay tuition directly to the university. This is a good fit for students interested in a particular university or specific city where VT does not have an exchange partnership, ISEP does not offer an option, or if you are an out-of-state student and the cost is comparable (or less expensive) to your VT tuition. Additionally, this option works well for international students choosing to stay in their home countries for a semester. Some universities refer to this as being a “free mover,” “visiting student,” or even just a “study abroad student.” There is some research required (Does the university offer a spot for a non-exchange student to study? What is the application process? What is tuition at the university? etc.). With some research, it can lead to great experiences by letting you choose a place and university that fits your interests and academic plans.

Benefits: the flexibility to determine your; a high level of independence to plan an experience for yourself; working directly with the university can allow you to access new opportunities as you research the host country and university (like planning research with a professor, or finding a unique housing option locally); sometimes a later application deadline than the VT exchange option; depending on the country and university, it may be low or even no cost for tuition 

Confirm how to apply or register for this program on the APPLYING page. 


Program Search: Find Your Study Abroad


VT Exchanges, Faculty-Led & Partner Programs

ISEP Exchange and Direct Enroll Options 

Study Abroad Provider Links & Information

Search by College

Search by Your College (VT Exchange, Faculty-Led Programs & VT Partner Programs for Your College)

Global Education Office

The Global Education Office works with all students studying abroad on all program types. You can reach out to us with questions at any stage of the process, from researching and reflecting to preparing for your departure. All students are required to complete mandatory registration or application for their study abroad through the My Study Abroad system, even if you are not going on a VT Exchange, Faculty-Led or Partner Program. 

Reach out for an advising appointment at, or drop-in to our advising hours during the times listed on our home page

Your College’s Study Abroad Office

Your college’s study abroad office or advisors can work with you to select a program and prepare academically and personally for a transformative experience abroad. 

Your Academic Advisor

Mention your study abroad plans any time you are discussing your academic plan. Don’t view study abroad as something separate--think of it as part of your curriculum, and work with your academic advisor to: 

  • Help determine the best time to study elsewhere
  • See how study abroad fits your degree progress
  • Check which and how many courses you are required to take in order to graduate on time
  • Determine if the courses offered abroad are a good match for the courses you need to take
  • Identify prerequisites you need to take at Virginia Tech before going abroad
  • Determine flexibility with course selection (including major(s), in your minor(s), Pathways, electives, etc.)

Other Questions

When you’ve spent time reflecting on why and where you want to study abroad, and researching which study abroad program works best for you, it’s time to apply. 

Remember, you are required to apply for a VT program with the Global Education Office’s My Study Abroad platform, and you are required to register your participation in a non-VT study abroad program. 

Go to the APPLYING page to see how to apply for your program.


Search Virginia Tech faculty-led and exchange programs

Search semester long exchange and direct host university programs

Search study abroad provider programs