Duke University : Global Education for Undergraduates


How do you choose a study away program? Sometimes "the road less traveled" leads to the greatest rewards.

First, keep in mind that there is no "one size fits all" in study abroad. The choice needs to be an individual one based upon your academic and personal goals. It is important not to rush into a program choice without considering all the options, however tempting it may be to simply follow the choices of your peers. 

So how do you identify the program which is the best fit for you? First, you need to ask yourself some questions about your academic goals, and how the various programs might help you achieve them.

Language of Instruction:

  • Is one of your goals to improve your fluency in a foreign language?
  • Are classes conducted in English or in the language of the host country?
  • What are the language requirements for applicants?

Duration of the program:

  • Is this a year-long program, or can students enroll for a single semester?
  • If a summer program, how many weeks is it?
  • How long can you be away from the home campus?


  • How many credits can you expect to earn on the program?
  • How many study abroad credits will your department accept towards a major/minor/certificate program?
  • Will you be able to earn the course codes that you need to progress in your degree program?
  • To get started, check the Course Approval Database.

Level of immersion in the host culture:

  • Is there a Resident Director, or any staff who deal solely with this group of students?
  • Would you enroll directly in classes at a foreign university, or is there a separate center for the program?
  • Are there special classes at the center? If so, in what subjects, and who teaches them?
  • If you enroll directly at the university, would you be taking separate classes specially designed for foreign students, or would your classmates be from the host country?
  • Do you want a high level of support and structure in your program or do you desire to be as independent as possible?

Living arrangements:

  • Will you live with a host family, in apartments, or in dorms?
  • How far is the housing from the university or program center?
  • How much privacy/personal independence does the housing offer?
  • Who would arrange the housing and could you switch if it were not satisfactory?
  • Are meals included? Can the program accommodate students with special dietary needs (e.g. food allergies)?
  • Is housing guaranteed by the program? (If so, are students required to live in program housing?)


  • What do the fees cover? (The cost of tuition, books, housing, meals, special excursions, and airfare may or may not be included.)
  • Are there not-so-obvious expenses you should take into account?
  • Are there scholarships available?

Eligibility requirements and number of participants:

  • Is there a minimum GPA for the program?
  • Are there prerequisites and do you meet them?
  • Is the program limited to degree-seeking university students?
  • Is the group large, small, or medium, and do you feel comfortable with the group size?
  • How selective is the program? Will you need to apply to a back-up program?

Past participants:

We always recommend that you start by looking at Duke's own programs, for which you pay Duke tuition and earn in-residence Duke credits. If there is a Duke program that suits your goals, this is usually the simplest option. 

If you do not find what you seek among the Duke-In programs, you may wish to explore the Duke-Approved Program List. This list, which is updated yearly, includes about 150 non-Duke programs currently approved for transfer credit. The list is organized by region and country, and contains links to each program's website.

If you are unable to find a Duke-administered or Duke-approved program that suits your academic needs, please contact the Global Education Office for an advising appointment.

    • Paella cooking class
    • Paella cooking class

    • Imbabura Province, Ecuador
    • Imbabura Province, Ecuador

    • Postcard from Abroad
    • Postcard from Abroad
    • Dear Global Education Office:


      Culture at one's doorstep -- one of the major highlights of participating in the Duke in Berlin program is living with my host family. They treat me as one of their own children and share with me over breakfast or a weekend dinner topics ranging from the news, history, and German culture then and now, to things like their family stories or what they dreamt about. They have their own sense of humor, which I appreciate. I don't know about the other host families, but I'm lucky because my host mom is a top-notch chef. I get to have a taste of real German cuisine every now and then as a result. I learn so much from my host family, things which aren't taught during class (although Jochen, our resident director, does a good job himself of acquainting us with strange fact tidbits).



    • Postcard from Abroad
    • Postcard from Abroad
    • Dear Global Education Office:

      Duke in Madrid all the way!

      I absolutely loved my experience in Spain. Complete immersion and great staff and great field trips easily makes this one of the best programs Duke has to offer! The classes and academics were great too! :)

      -Diana Garibaldi

  • Goreme Open Air Museum