There are many factors to consider when choosing a study abroad program. Here are a few to think about when considering what type of program might be the best fit for you.

Factors to Consider


Study abroad is first and foremost an academic experience. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to determine how the program fits into your academic needs:

  • Are there specific types of courses you need to take while abroad in order to stay on track towards your major or degree requirements? 
  • Do you have flexibility to take other courses of interest? 
  • Where might you gain an interesting, relevant, and unique perspective on what you are studying at Tufts?

Your major advisor should be your first point of contact if you have questions about major and degree requirements, course selection, and how courses from abroad may count towards the major.


The academic and cultural experience you will have abroad is partly determined by the specific location you choose. Here are some points to consider:

  • Are you interested in a particular culture, region, country, or city? 
  • Do you want to be somewhere well-travelled or off the beaten path? 
  • Do you prefer to be in a big city, where activities and amenities are plentiful and the pace of life might be faster?  Or would you prefer a small town, where there might be fewer study-abroad students and other international travelers, and the local culture might have fewer outside influences? 


Study abroad is the best way to work towards fluency in a foreign language, and using the language of your host country is ideal for integrating into the local culture. Here are some points to consider.

  • Do you prefer an English-speaking destination or program, or do you want to continue your study of a language? 
  • If you have significant background in a foreign language and wish to use or continue studying it while abroad, focus your attention on programs that cater to students at your specific level. You don’t want to choose a program where the majority of other students will be less proficient than you.

Program Type

Direct-Enrollment Direct enrollment provides you the opportunity to take courses at a local university in the host country, alongside local students. This is ideal for meeting local peers and experiencing another country’s academic system. It also often provides you a wider variety of courses to choose from, compared to other program types. You will have most of the amenities of the local university available to you, and you will get to experience the local student life on campus. Direct enrollment is good for students who are independent, self-directed, and comfortable with ambiguity, as you will often be expected to handle administrative matters on your own.  Universities abroad will utilize different theoretical perspectives, teaching methodologies, and methods of assessment than you are used to in the U.S., often requiring you to learn more independently.
Center-Based Center-based programs provide an academic experience tailored to U.S. study-abroad students. While courses are most often taught by local professors, they are designed with U.S. teaching and assessment methodologies in mind. The program’s classrooms, staff offices, computer facilities, and library resources are often housed in one or more buildings where you will spend the majority of your school day. You gain understanding of the local context through facilitated discussion and guided excursions (for example, an art history course might meet several times at a local museum). You will take your classes with the other study-abroad students in the program, so you will need to take the initiative to meet locals and take advantage of cultural opportunities provided by the program. Center-based programs are good for students who want a great deal of support or who wish to study in a location where previous coursework in the local language isn’t possible at Tufts.
Hybrid Hybrid programs provide a mix of direct enrollment at a local university, local university courses designed specifically for international students, and courses designed specifically for the study-abroad students on the program. The program’s staff offices and facilities are often housed on or near a local university campus, and your school week might be a mix of time spent at the program’s facilities and at the local university. You might also have local university amenities available to you. Hybrid programs are a great option for students who want a mix of independence and support, or those who have some previous study of the local language but are not quite proficient enough for a full direct-enroll experience.
Field-Based Field-based programs often consist of a set curriculum of courses with a specific academic focus or theme, and incorporate hands-on learning such as data collection or field research.  Some days are spent in non-traditional classroom environments. You will take your classes exclusively with the other study-abroad students on the program, but the program will facilitate understanding of the local context through homestays, site-visits relevant to your academic work, or guest lecturers who are local professionals in a given field. Field-based programs may spend some or all of their time in rural, remote, outdoor, or otherwise challenging locations, where you may not have access to all of the comforts you are used to in the U.S.
Internship Internship programs are a great way to gain work experience related to your academic field while studying abroad. Tufts approves a select number of internship programs, though there are restrictions regarding the amount of credit you may receive.


A Note about Traveling

Travel can be an important part of the study abroad experience, but it shouldn’t be your primary goal. Tufts’ philosophy for study abroad emphasizes immersion in a single host country in order to maximize cultural, linguistic, and academic integration and understanding. If you want to travel extensively, you should plan to do so before or after your study abroad term.

Learn about your semester- and year-long program options: 

Tufts Programs Abroad External Programs Compare Tufts and External Programs