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Program Types

These are group programs whose pedagogical structure seeks to integrate classroom study with field and research experience. An academic director with experience in the area of study and knowledge of the host country supervises the coursework and facilitates student access to local resources, facilities, and experts. These programs usually involve an opportunity to pursue an independent research project, and some may include an internship. Most programs also involve a homestay for at least a portion of the program.

A number of experiential programs involve an academically-structured internship placement, involving half- or three-quarter-time work for a significant portion of the semester. The other coursework associated with these programs is similar to that offered in group or hybrid programs, though the range of course offerings is likely more limited and may even involve a set curriculum. The classroom contact for the program courses may also be front-loaded in the semester in order to allow appropriate time for the internship placement.
Generally speaking, center-based programs are those where students pursue courses with other college students coming from U.S. universities. The instructors are usually from the host country, often faculty members from a nearby university. These courses may be offered in the host country language, in English, or in a combination of the two. Some group programs also offer opportunities for students to pursue a one-course internship.

Many center-based programs offer a homestay and/or a student housing option, and most provide a significant number of structured opportunities to learn about the host country or region.
These are essentially the same as center programs, but also offer students an opportunity to take one or two courses per semester at an affiliate university or universities, either with local students or with international students from various programs. 
These programs involve study in regular courses at a host country higher education institution. These programs will have an orientation at the beginning of the program sponsored by the program provider (e.g., Arcadia, IFSA) for all students coming from U.S. universities, usually in a central location, but after that point, one will work primarily with the host universities’ international student office regarding the day-to-day logistics of coursework, housing, etc. Housing is usually with peers in a residential college or a university-owned student apartment, though occasionally one may be placed in program housing with other U.S.-based college students.
This is a small group of programs that focus on providing students with research-based science opportunities. Many of these are experiential in structure, involving significant work at field-research stations. Others combine classroom-based seminars with significant research experience in a prestigious laboratory setting.
The opportunity to study off campus in January or over the summer is a great option for students who have limited time to pursue this opportunity during the academic year. There is a great deal of flexibility when it comes to short-term and summer programs. You can read more about studying off campus during summer here.