If you're looking for study abroad inspiration, it's helpful to check with those tried and true destinations recommended by the students who've experienced them. Here at Go Overseas, we have a rare opportunity to see the whole study abroad industry, read all the reviews from past students, and keep an eye on which destinations are getting rave reviews and gaining popularity.
After gathering the stats, we crunched the numbers to determine the most popular and best places to study abroad in 2019. Items that factored into these rankings include the number of programs available and popularity on Go Overseas as well as search around the world. We examined the whole globe to try and figure out exactly where students loved studying abroad in 2018, and where you might want to go too.
If you're a little more unconventional and want to avoid the crowds of fellow students flocking to these ultra-popular countries, consider checking out our list of up & coming places to study abroad in 2019, featuring up-and-coming destinations we think you'll love.
The competition was fierce this year with three newcomers entering the ring as well as several countries steadily clawing their way to the top. Check out the details below to see if any of these titans are the right fit for your study abroad!
|Country||Rank (2019)||Previous Rank (2018)||Change|
Surprised not to see the U.K. on this year's list? Read the entire article to find out why. Now dive in to learn more about each of these countries and what makes them such great destinations for students.
Jumping six spots from last year, Japan takes first place as the most popular country to study abroad in 2019. The birthplace of sushi, Nintendo, and emojis, Japan's contributions to the world reach far beyond its pop culture exports. Japan has a long and strong tradition of art, music, and literature and in the last century has given us some of the most important technological advances to-date. It's no wonder students are flocking to explore this country!
An island nation with no shortage of beaches, Japan also has mountains, modern cities, traditional villages, and thousands of shrines, temples, and museums. In short, there truly is something for everyone. Whether you choose the hustle and bustle of Tokyo or a smaller city like Sapporo, you will have ample opportunities for cultural and language immersion. Hop outside your comfort zone in 2019 and join the countless other students who are experiencing all the exciting things Japan has to offer.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in Japan:
- Study Abroad at Hokusei Gakuen University
- Summer in Japan: Global Citizenship & Cross-Cultural Studies at Seisen University, Tokyo with CISabroad
- Study Language & Culture during Summer in Nagoya during Summer in Nagoya with IES Abroad
- Hiroshima University Study Abroad Program with USAC
- Arts + Sciences in Tokyo, Japan with CIEE
Are you a Francophile? If so, you're not alone. Climbing three spots to #2, France continues to attract students from all over in record numbers. Those in love with all things France can enjoy the food, history, and romance while studying abroad in this highly popular destination.
Paris is the go-to for most students studying abroad in France but there are many great options to consider outside of the capital. Beautiful Aix-en-Provence is a picturesque university city in the south with easy access to the beach. Foodies will love Lyon which is considered one of the culinary capitals of the world. Be sure to check out these smaller cities and others where life can be just as lively, and certainly more budget-friendly!
Popular Study Abroad Programs in France:
- Study Abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France with CEA
- Business & International Affairs Program in Paris with IES Abroad
- Study Abroad at Université Grenoble Alpes with API
- French Language, Art History, and Francophone Studies in Lyon in Lyon with USAC
- Study at The American University of Paris with SAI Programs
Italian cuisine is well-loved all around the world and its history is the stuff of legends. It's no wonder this southern Mediterranean destination is so popular among study abroad participants. Jumping one spot to #3, a plethora of exciting opportunities exist in cities across Italy to study the Italian language and culture, liberal arts, and more.
Rome and Florence are the top cities frequented by students. However, venture to less popular locations and you won't be disappointed. Sorrento, a coastal city, is famous for its stunning water views and stellar culinary scene.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in Italy:
The land of sun and siestas dropped one spot but still remains in the top study abroad destinations. Known for its stress-free lifestyle, great food and wine, and rich history, Spain is the perfect place to brush up on your language skills or simply take in all this diverse country has to offer.
Madrid, a historical and cultural powerhouse and the heart of Spain, is a lively and engaging student city with loads of sights and activities. If life in the capital isn't quite your speed, many smaller cities and towns with just as active student populations exist all over Spain and are easily accessible by public transportation. Seville, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Granada are among the more popular locations and each has its own particular flavor while encompassing that laid-back Spanish lifestyle that is easy to fall in love with and hard to leave.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in Spain:
- Study Abroad in Sevilla, Spain with ISA
- Study Abroad in Granada, Spain with CEA
- International Business and Spanish Studies in Bilbao & Getxo with USAC
- Study Language & Area Studies in Madrid with IES Abroad
- Study at the University of Alicante with USAC
5. New Zealand
Think of New Zealand and many recall the breathtaking natural beauty featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has been credited for the rise in tourism. Comprised of two main islands, the geographic diversity of this small country and its quality study abroad programs wowed students last year, catapulting this newcomer into 5th place.
New Zealand's capital Wellington is among the top cities for students, who enjoy getaways to its lovely beaches in between classes. Student-friendly Dunedin, also on the coast, boasts numerous hiking and biking trails. You will certainly live the "work hard, play hard" mantra in New Zealand.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in New Zealand:
- Study Abroad in New Zealand with IFSA
- Study Abroad in Dunedin with BCA
- Study Abroad in Wellington with ISA
- Study at the University Of Canterbury in Christchurch with IES Abroad
- Study Abroad in Auckland, New Zealand with ISA
New to the list this year, Ireland is quickly gaining popularity as a great study abroad destination. This tiny Island nation is chock full of friendly locals and beautiful corners to explore. Home to a prodigious literary history (think Bram Stoker and James Joyce for starters) and a traditional music scene that is second to none, those interested in the arts will never be at a loss for things to do. Ireland also appeals to the outdoorsy types with great hiking, cycling, and even surfing. Sure it rains a lot, but it's a small price to pay for rolling green hills and lush forests.
A truly international city, Dublin's walkability and access to museums, public green spaces, and pubs make it popular among students. Galway is a short two-hour bus ride away and is famous for its arts scene and bohemian vibe. Equally student-friendly, Limerick and Cork are small enough to feel like more than just a face in the crowd while offering a large number of activities. Feel your inner creative come to life in this enchanting land of storytellers!
Popular Study Abroad Programs in Ireland:
- Irish Literature, History, and Music in Galway with USAC
- Peace and Conflict Studies in Ireland and the Middle East with Foundation for International Education
- Study Abroad at the University of Limerick with API
- Dublin Writer's Program with IES Abroad
- Gap Year at University College Cork in Ireland with API
Despite dropping five spots from last year, China continues to be a popular option for study abroad students. Nearly as large as the entirety of Europe in terms of land area, China is extremely diverse. It is also one of the world's oldest civilizations with over 4,000 years of recorded history. All of these fun facts make China an exceptionally exciting and interesting place to study.
China's rise as a world power has led business students and language enthusiasts alike to pursue Mandarin study. While statistics vary, Duolingo has 2.85 million registered Chinese language learners and this number will only continue to rise in the future. Whether you go to pursue serious study or just want to learn enough to order siu mai like a local, total immersion in China's culture and language is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in China:
- Chinese and International Business Studies in Shanghai with USAC
- Study Abroad at Beijing Normal University with UCEAP
- Intensive Tutoring Program with Next Step China
- Chinese Language and Culture in Chengdu with USAC
- Academic Year Abroad in Shanghai with EF
Oktoberfest, the autobahn, Beethoven, currywurst: only a few of the things that come to mind when thinking about Germany. A country with around 20,000 castles, Germany's history, architecture, and culture will charm students without much effort. It's no surprise that Germany is a bit of a mainstay on our popular study abroad destinations list year after year -- or that it climbed one spot since last year.
Due to its status as an economic powerhouse, Germany is popular among business and political science students. It is extremely student-friendly as a whole, but certain cities attract many study abroad participants than others. Berlin is famous for its artsy and alternative vibes while Marburg is known for being quaint and friendly. Sweet discounts abound for students in Germany including reduced or free transit passes. The welcoming atmosphere you'll encounter here will have you feeling right at home in no time.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in Germany:
- Language & Area Studies in Berlin with IES Abroad
- Study Abroad in Marburg with BCA
- German Language, European and Sustainability/Environmental Studies in Lüneburg with USAC
- Year or Semester Study Abroad in Munich with Junior Year in Munich at Wayne State University
- Winter or Summer Study Abroad in Berlin with FuBIS
Australia's mix of rugged terrain, pristine beaches, and cosmopolitan cities will delight adventure-seekers everywhere. Consistently popular among students, the transition abroad to this fellow English-speaking country can be less daunting for first-timers. While Aussie slang may leave you scratching your head at times, you won't be left in the dark; Australians are notoriously fun and friendly.
Iconic Sydney is beloved by participants who enjoy its vibrant nightlife, beaches, and cultural activities. Ranking in the top five for both best student city and most budget-friendly, Brisbane is home to Australia's largest art gallery as well as important cultural sites and bustling live music and theater scenes. If the great outdoors pique your interest, trekking through the Outback will expose you to Australia's untamed beauty.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in Australia:
10. South Korea
A surge in the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas among English-speakers has helped put South Korea and Korean language learning on the study abroad map. New to this year's top ten, South Korea's programs have left past participants raving about their time abroad.
Aside from Korean language courses, classes in English focusing on the arts and sciences are available to prospective students. Seoul, the country's vibrant and diverse capital, is popular among students who want to experience life in a fast-paced and modern city. Enjoy the magic of kimchi-jjigae and many other flavorful Korean dishes after a day of browsing around the Gangnam District. Immerse yourself in South Korean life and you may never want to leave.
Popular Study Abroad Programs in South Korea:
- Study Abroad in Seoul with ISA
- Korean and East Asian Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul with USAC
- Language Year Abroad in Seoul with EF
- Summer in Seoul - K-Pop, Culture, & Language with CISabroad
- Arts + Sciences Program in Seoul with CIEE
But Wait... What about the United Kingdom?!
If you've noticed an omission from this year's list, you're right: in 2019 we did not include the U.K. Why? Let us explain...
This year, Go Overseas tabulated results for the United Kingdom based on its separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. We did this to acknowledge the vast diversity in culture, history, and even language that exists across the U.K. The U.K. is undoubtedly one of the most popular places to study abroad in the world, and we expect to see at least one of the countries in the United Kingdom make the list next year. Additionally, London and Edinburgh remain among the top cities to study abroad in worldwide.
Even though the U.K. didn't make the list, we know some readers might want a few programs to get them inspired. Here are some of the many great programs exist across the U.K. for you to explore!
- Live and Study in a Castle! Alnwick, England with St. Cloud State University Education Abroad
- Summer Study Abroad in Oxford, England with Oxford Royale Academy
- Study & Intern Abroad in Wales with Central College Abroad
- Study Abroad at Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland
- Study Abroad at University of Glasgow, Scotland with Arcadia University
2019 Honorable Mentions
Who didn't make the cut? This year, Costa Rica and Norway (previously 6th and 8th, respectively) were bumped off the list by several newcomers and countries steadily climbing the charts. Here's the skinny on these two runner-ups.
It's common to see the shaka sign (pinky finger and thumb out) accompanied by a friendly "pura vida" when studying abroad in Costa Rica. Translated to "pure life," this mantra exemplifies the good-natured and laid-back approach to life in this beautiful Central American country.
Here you can study everything from intensive Spanish to sustainability, all while not breaking the bank. Costa Rica is safe, affordable, and welcoming which makes it perfect for students.
This Scandinavian country has much to offer study abroad students: an open, welcoming society, high-quality academic programs in English, and beautiful cities and countryside to explore. While not the cheapest destination in terms of cost of living, Norway offers affordable tuition rates and student discounts. In between your studies, you can visit the fjords, catch the Northern Lights, or simply kick back in a cozy cafe in Oslo. Norway's progressive mindset will surely be a breath of fresh air.
With all of the incredible study abroad locations available, it's hard to pick just one. Hopefully, this list better prepared you to make an informed decision. What you can be sure about is that no matter where you choose, you're bound to learn a lot, make many new friendships, and have the time of your life!