How To Choose a Study Away Program

This Is About You

When it comes to choosing a study away program, the array of options can be overwhelming. It might seem easier to follow friends’ recommendations, but study away is really about your own path. What are you looking for? What are your academic and personal goals? Here’s a list to get you started with evaluating your needs:


  • What courses and how many credits will your department accept towards a major, minor, or certificate program?
  • Will you be able to earn Areas of Knowledge and/or Modes of Inquiry needed for graduation?


  • Where around the world is current research or innovation happening in fields that interest you?
  • Where could you learn from industry leaders?
  • Where might you want to work or intern later?
  • Does the program offer an internship component?


  • 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 to the program?


  • Is this a year-long program, semester, or summer program?
  • How long can you be away from Duke?
  • Does the academic calendar of the program impact your summer or winter break plans?

Support Systems

  • Do you want a high level of support and structure in your program or do you desire to be as independent as possible?
  • Is there a Resident Director or any staff who work solely with program participants?
  • Will you enroll directly in classes at a local university, or is there a separate academic center for the program?


  • Are there special classes at the academic center? If so, in what subjects, and who teaches them?
  • If you enroll directly at the university, will you be taking separate classes specially designed for program students, or will your classmates be from the host university?

Housing & Meals

  • Will you live with a host family, in an apartment, or in a residence hall?
  • How far is the housing from the university or program center?
  • How much privacy/personal independence does the housing offer?
  • Who will arrange the housing?
  • Are meals included? Can the program accommodate students with special dietary needs (e.g. food allergies)?


  • What does the program cost cover? Does it cover tuition, books, housing, meals, special excursions, and airfare, etc.?
  • Are there not-so-obvious expenses you should take into account?
  • Are there scholarships available to help pay for the program?

Eligibility Requirements

  • Is there a minimum GPA or class standing requirement for the program?
  • Are there other prerequisites, and do you meet them?
  • How selective is the program? Will you need to apply early and/or prepare an application for a back-up program?

The Other Participants

  • Is the group large, medium, or small; and do you feel comfortable with that?
  • Will you take courses with local students, students from US-based universities, or international students? How will this affect your experience?
  • Is it possible to speak with a student who has recently participated in the program?