Summer vs. Semester Study Abroad: Which is best for you?

Study abroad programs present variety in academics and location. However, it is also important to consider the time of year: summer vs semester abroad. Both opportunities can be beneficial, and it is important to know your goal for going abroad to determine which would be the best fit.

Summer Programs: A Different Type of Summer Vacation

Summer Programs are often sponsored through the university, so there is not concern for whether the classes will transfer credits or not. The process of matching classes with the necessary credits is very tedious, and eliminating that procedure makes the registration process much smoother.

Additionally, going abroad can be intimidating and a summer program provides more support and less time away from family and friends. By going abroad for the summer, you can avoid missing any school traditions or valuable time on class or campus, if you decide that is a priority for you.

However, by only going for the summer, you will not have much time to immerse yourself in the culture. Depending on the program, you might not have as much flexibility or time to learn and become involved in a new culture at your own pace. Furthermore, there might not be a program that matches with your necessary classes or major and summer programs typically have a set type of classes or subjects.

The Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University

“I always wanted to study abroad and wanted to find out a way I could do it with the classes I needed to take. I chose the Oxford summer program at SMU because at the time, I was a history minor. After taking classes in Oxford, I actually upgraded my minor to a major because of the interactive experience that I had!”
Sriya Reddy, SMU Class of 2021

An Immersive Semester (or Year!)

The longer option is curating around five to six months of classes and experiences to create a a holistic educational experience both inside and outside the classroom. Being away for a whole semester gives you the opportunity to participate in a true culture exchange. You can create your own schedule and decide what classes and activities to be involved in.

Furthermore, a semester abroad allows you to meet more people and form deeper connections with your classmates and colleagues. You never where these relationships and connections can take you!

However, planning a semester can be involved as you must make sure your home university will accept your class credit. Additionally, there are more complex logistics involved with travelling abroad.

A man skipping rocks in a lake

“I am really glad I did a year in New Zealand! A semester or year can be a really immersive experience as it takes a lot of time to get to know a place, to get to know people and make connections. Some of the best experiences that I had were later in the semester. Summer can really feel like a vacation where you only see the highlights where as a semester can give you the time to really get to know a place.”
Isabelle Galko, SMU Class of 2022


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