Skip to content

International Student and
Study Abroad Services

Text size Small | Medium | Large

Choosing a Program





Cost Comparison Tool

Cost Comparison Tool (PDF)

Feature Comparison Tool

Feature Comp

Choosing a program can be one of the most challenging but exciting parts of the planning process of going abroad. Get started by talking with a Peer Mentor and gain helpful tools as you begin your journey. It is also recommended that you consult with your Academic Advisor to help you decide when to study abroad and outline your academic priorities. Consider the following information when deciding which program is best for you.

What are the most popular destinations for study abroad students at NDSU?

Europe is by far the most popular destination, with Ireland, the U.K. and Spain some of the most popular destinations. Other popular destinations have been Central America, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. 

When is the best time for me to study abroad?

This question depends on each individual student. Students are eligible to go abroad when they are at least sophomores (or even as a freshman on select Faculty-Led Programs). Some students may want to study abroad right away, some may wait until they are finishing their final requirements so they can take part in practical experiences like internships, student teaching, or practicums, while some students study abroad somewhere in between. Ask your department if they recommend particular times for students in your major/minor to go abroad.

Which Program Type Is Right For You?

There are 4 program types available through NDSU, giving you a wide variety of options to choose from. The program type has a significant effect on both your time abroad and the financial commitment later. Below is an overview of the types of programs available for NDSU students; a full breakdown of costs and payment logistics for each type is located on the Program Costs page.

Students taking part in an Exchange Program typically are taking classes at the university as an international student and have an opportunity to get to know local students well in their day to day life. Depending on the program, many exchange options offer a wide variety of courses in English, and may offer the opportunity to learn or improve another language.

There are two kinds of Exchange Programs available: Partner Exchange and ISEP Exchange. All NDSU Exchange, ISEP Exchange, and Faculty-led programs have the same tuition and fees as a semester at NDSU. Do you receive a tuition waiver? If so, exchange programs are a great fit for you because the tuition is waived just as if you were attending here at NDSU.

    NDSU works with a small number of exchange school partners all over the world. The application process for these programs is straight-forward, and for most programs if you meet the minimum requirements for GPA and are in good standing with NDSU you just need to complete the application to be approved to take part.

    Students on exchange are responsible for the costs of airfare, housing and other expenses while abroad. Housing is typically arranged through the host university abroad and students pay their room and board costs. This means that the cost of room and board on an NDSU exchange program varies by location.

    The International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) network offers more than 100 opportunities to study on exchange all over the world. Placement for an ISEP Exchange programs is a competitive process, with some programs offering high placement rates and others in popular locations (Australia and England especially) being very competitive for placement. On an ISEP application students have the opportunity to list multiple program options in order of preference, with the only limitation being that only one "limited availability" program can be included in the list. You can find detailed information on the chance of placement on the ISEP homepage for each program.

    Students who study abroad through an ISEP exchange program pay a Program Cost that covers room and board based on the NDSU housing and meal plan rate. This means that the cost of room and board for any ISEP exchange program is the same, regardless of location. Other costs, such as airfare and personal expenses are the responsibility of the student.
NDSU Direct Programs on SlideShare

Students taking part in a Direct program typically are taking classes at the university as an international student and have an opportunity to get to know local students well in their day to day life. Direct programs are often located in popular English-speaking locations, but may offer the opportunity to learn or practice a language as well.

Students attending a Direct program will have NDSU tuition waived as they will be paying the host university's tuition. A small amount of NDSU fees will be charged for registration purposes. Students are responsible for room, meals, airfare and personal spending money.


Faculty-Led programs are programs led by an NDSU faculty member who is taking a group of NDSU students abroad for a timeframe that could be as short as a week or as long as a semester. While on the program, students take NDSU classes, making the process for planning how to use courses even easier. Although in some cases students may be less integrated in the local culture, the educational experience is cohesive and immersive.

All NDSU and ISEP Exchange and Faculty-led programs have the same tuition and fees as a semester at NDSU. For faculty-led programs, students will also pay a program fee which often--but not always--includes costs such as room, board, in country travel, health insurance and airfare. Other costs, such as personal expenses, are the responsibility of the student.

Affiliate Provider Presentation on YouTube
Schedule: START - Intro with Callie Dominique K. Speer, Study Abroad Advisor; 4:43AIFS programs with Angela Manginelli; 10:11IES Abroad programs with Kellie Clock; 16:32ISA programs with Walt Lengel; 23:54World Endeavors programs with Kjerstin Olson; 30:03API programs with Chelsea Kindred; 37:06Arcadia University programs with Aubrey Tranter; 44:36GlobaLinks programs with Shun Yanagishita; 56:38IFSA-Butler programs with Nick Pivovarnik

NDSU works with several affiliate providers in order to offer students an even wider range of study abroad options. There is a great variety within this program type. Some programs are enclave experiences with courses designed specifically for international students, while other programs offer the opportunity to take courses with locals. Affiliate Programs may also offer neat opportunities such as built in excursions and/or opportunities for interning and volunteering.

When taking part in an Affiliate Program, NDSU tuition is waived as students will pay the affiliate provider's program fee. A small amount of NDSU fees will be charged for registration purposes. Most providers include costs such as tuition, room, meals, health insurance, excursions, etc. in the program fee. Each provider is different, so please be sure to research exactly what your program fee includes.

Return to Top

Other Considerations

Academic Environment

  • Is it an appealing location to me?
  • Are there classes offered in my major/minor?
  • Are there interesting classes outside my major/minor?
  • Is it an accredited university that issues transcripts?
  • Are excursions included?
  • In what language are courses taught?
  • Are there introductory language courses?
  • Are classes primarily with foreign, native or other American students?
  • Is there an orientation session?

Eligibility Requirements

  • Is this program open to all students?
  • Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
  • Is it for specific majors/age/year in school?

Other Associated Costs

  • Application fees Are there additional application fees that would apply for your program?
  • Living expenses The cost of living can vary significantly from country to country. Even if the tuition cost is inexpensive, a high cost of living can make a particular program more expensive for participants. The Lloyds Expat Tool has some information about the most expensive cities in the world.
  • Travel expenses What are the costs for airline tickets to your particular country? If you want to travel on weekends and during breaks, how expensive will travel from this country be?
  • Other program expenses Are there extra expenses for your program, such as housing deposits or course fees for certain classes?
  • Visa costs Consider also the cost of applying for the visa needed for your country. Some countries require that you travel to another city such as Chicago or New York in order to apply for a visa in person.
  • Scholarships/financial aid Are there additional scholarships available for your program, country, or subject of study? Does the type of program affect your financial aid eligibility because it is non-credit bearing or some other factor.

Dates of Program

  • When do you want to study abroad and for how long? Talking to your academic advisor and department are a great place to start when considering the best timing for your study abroad exerience.
  • Fall and spring semester options Which semester works best for you to complete major and minor requirements or general electives?
  • Academic year options Is there a year that would work for you to be abroad?
  • Summer options How when and for how many weeks would you like to study abroad? Financial aid guidelines requiring 6 credits for direct loan eligibility apply.

Living Arrangements

  • Host families/dorms/apartments/other?
  • With other international students, Americans or native citizens?
  • How are meals arranged? Meal plan or self-catered - or a combination of the two options?

Other Important Questions

  • Why do I want to study abroad?
  • Have I explored other countries/programs (even places I never thought about before)?
  • Am I prepared mentally, physically, academically for this?
  • Do I want to travel/work/volunteer before or after the program dates before returning home?
Return to Top