10 Bucket List-Worthy Study Abroad Programs

Want to travel to a dream destination and get college credit at the same time? Explore amazing programs that let you do just that.

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Harry Potter's United Kingdom

Harry Potter fans may not be able to apparate into the boy wizard’s world, but Potterphiles can still take a real trip to the wizarding realm. With Purdue University, students can spend a week delving into the magical world of Harry Potter. During the spring break stay, students will visit London, Oxford, Stonehenge and Edinburgh, see real sites featured in the books and those used to depict the fantasy world in the movies and study magical lore and myths.


During winter break, students can summer in Antarctica and see orcas, penguins and sea lions through a program offered by The College of Brockport, a campus of the State University of New York. The 14-day program includes a field study of the Antarctic peninsula, Tierra del Fuego and the tip of Argentina. Students explore the biological systems of the areas as well as observe wildlife in their natural habitat. The program provides students with extraordinary experiences few others will ever have, such as diving into a caldera or sleeping in a hole in a glacier.

Semester at Sea

The Semester at Sea program is a once-in-a-lifetime journey for students from a variety of colleges and universities to sail around the world in 105 days. The ship sets off in California, traveling to Hawaii and then 11 countries, including Japan, China, Vietnam, Burma, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana and Morocco, before disembarking in Hamburg, Germany.

Florence, Italy

The capital of Italy’s breathtaking Tuscan region, the city of Florence lies on the Arno River and is famously known as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Here, New York University’s Florence study abroad program focuses on art, history, literature and cinema through a humanities and social sciences perspective. NYU’s Florence campus, Villa La Pietra, is made up of five villas and nearly 60 acres of gardens and olive groves. Among other locations, NYU hosts sponsored trips to Lucca, Bologna and Pisa, which are free to study abroad students during the three-month program.

Galapagos Islands

The unusual land and marine life of the pristine Galapagos Islands have drawn scientists and small groups of wildlife and environmental enthusiasts to this volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador for decades. It was here that Charles Darwin first made observations that led to his groundbreaking theory of evolution. Students in the University of Georgia’s Animals and Insects of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands program travel between Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Maquipucuna Reserve, Playa del Oro and other locations to analyze and preserve insects and animals. Participants in the three-week program go on night and morning hikes to examine the local wild and insect life and spend a week boating to different sites among the Galapagos Islands.

Kyoto, Japan

Shinto shrines and silent sanctuaries, lush gardens, kabuki theater, Japanese music and a tranquil monument to haiku poetry can all be found in the Japanese city of Kyoto. Students who embark on Harvard University’s Japan study abroad program are introduced to unique eastern customs and traditions through a homestay with a Kyoto family. During their 25-day stay, students study Eastern economies, religions and history. While visiting, students can take trips to ancient shrines and observe the 1,100-year-old Gion Festival, which takes place during the study abroad trip.

South Africa

Once a land of conflict, colonialism and segregation, as South Africa has moved away from its apartheid past, the nation at the southern tip of Africa can now showcase its natural wonders and diverse mixture of cultures, cuisines and wildlife. LeadAbroad's many international travel programs give students the rare opportunity to study leadership and global citizenship from a foreign perspective. Students who embark on its five-week South Africa journey will go bungee jumping, abseiling and paragliding and will go cage diving with sharks and visit an elephant sanctuary. A homestay and introduction to local tribal elders will provide students with the opportunity to experience local culture.


The Turkish peninsula, bordered by the Mediterranean and Black seas, has always acted as a bridge between Europe and Asia, specifically the Middle East. Turkey’s ancient cities, rugged mountains and beautiful coastlines can be explored through Georgetown University’s McGhee Center semester-long study abroad program, based in a Mediterranean villa in Alanya that was donated to the school in 1989 by former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and Germany George Crewes McGhee. In order to fully immerse students in the ancient history of the land, the program includes multiple day trips and overnight trips to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Cyprus and more.


Located off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is a biodiversity dream come true. About 90 percent of its plant life is found only on this island nation, and the SIT Study Abroad Madagascar program immerses its students in one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world. During their semester-long stay, students tackle biodiversity and environmental issues, spend time living with locals, learn the native Malagasy language, explore the Great Barrier Reef of Tuléar and visit national parks.


With civilizational influences and masterpieces too numerous to mention, the nearly 3,000-year-old city of Rome is a must-see for travelers. Students can get a firsthand look at the country of Michelangelo, Virgil and Cicero, as well as explore Eternal City landmarks like the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain and Sistine Chapel through the University of Dallas’s Rome program. In 1994, the University established its own Eugene Constantin Rome Campus, which students studying art, architecture, history, literature, theology and philosophy use as their home base to explore ancient sites of Rome and other cities, including the Tower of Pisa and the Duomo in Florence. Additional reporting by Katie Tiller.

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