Penn State Education Abroad Programs

The Education Abroad Office offers an approved list of programs to Penn State students. Programs that are approved by the Education Abroad Office have been thoroughly vetted by an academic college. Programs are approved when they:

  • Are determined to be of high academic quality equal and aligned with the academic standards of Penn State
  • Offer strong support services to our students while on site
  • Have crisis and emergency response plans in place to keep our students safe

The Education Abroad office administers a variety of program types in order to meet the needs of all Penn State students.


Penn State Semester and Summer Programs

Program Length

  • Summer: typically four to eight weeks
  • Semester: 12 to 16 weeks; does not always follow Penn State's semester schedule
  • Academic Year: anywhere from seven months to an entire year abroad

Program Types

Direct Enrollment

  • Students enroll as an international student at a host university.
  • Students are fully integrated with local students.
  • Housing is often acquired by the student independently or in cooperation with the host university's international office.


  • Exchange programs are often, though not always, the least expensive options.
  • Students from Penn State and the host institution are exchanged, typically on a one-to-one basis.
  • Exchange programs have the most competitive admissions process.
  • Each student will enroll as an international student at a host university.
  • Penn State students are fully integrated with local students.
  • Housing is often acquired by the student independently or in cooperation with the host university's international office.

Study Center

  • Study Center programs are often organized by a non-profit educational organization such as IES, CIEE, or Arcadia (note: not all programs on the IES, CIEE, or Arcadia website are approved by Penn State).
  • The program fee often includes housing, field trips, and some meals.
  • Study Centers provide on-site staff to assist students.
  • Penn State students may be less integrated with local students; courses usually taken with other U.S. students.
  • Some study centers also offer direct enrollment course options with local universities; although there may be a higher language requirement for those courses depending on the location.
  • Many programs offer homestays as one housing option.

Faculty-Led Freestanding

  • Programs organized and led by a Penn State faculty member.
  • Courses are taken with Penn State students only.
  • Programs typically focus on a single theme or academic discipline.
  • Some programs are only open to students in specific majors.
  • Many programs offered during the summer semester.
  • Various short-term, embedded courses offered during semester breaks (fall break, winter break, spring break, Maymester).

Penn State Embedded Programs

What is a Penn State Embedded Program?

  • An embedded program is any undergraduate or graduate course taken at a Penn State campus that includes an international, credit-bearing travel component.
  • Embedded programs are organized and led by Penn State faculty members.
  • Academic courses on embedded programs are taught by Penn State faculty and are considered Penn State courses.
  • The international travel component is typically 5-10 days, often during fall break, winter break, spring break, or Maymester.
  • Any student participating in the travel component must be registered for the appropriate, related course in LionPATH.

How Do I Learn More About Embedded Programs in My Field? How Do I Sign Up?

  • Students should contact the faculty member in charge of the embedded program for more information.
  • Students should contact their academic department or college to inquire about potential embedded programs in their major or field of study.
  • To participate on an embedded program, students register for the appropriate course via LionPATH - students cannot apply for an embedded program through the Education Abroad website.

Are There Any Scholarships Available?

How Can I Stay Safe and Healthy While on an Embedded Program?

Before going abroad, students will complete an online pre-departure orientation that includes information about how to prepare for the experience and best practices for remaining safe and healthy abroad.  Students will also have the opportunity to meet with their program leaders who will provide additional information specific to the location in which the group will study.