Study Abroad Misconceptions


Here are some common misconceptions about study abroad. We’d hate for your student to miss out due to incorrect information!

  • It’s too expensive.
    There are study abroad programs available at a variety of price points. Some of the more afforable options are semester-long exchange programs where students pay ISU tuition and fees instead of the tuition of the university abroad. In addition, out-of-state students can find programs which cost less than their ISU tuition! Check out our page on program cost for more information.
  • It’s only for foreign language majors and minors.
    Foreign language majors and minors are a natural choice for participating in a study abroad program, but they only account for roughly 7% of the U.S. students who study abroad*. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors make up a large portion of the study abroad student population, while business follows with a 20% share.  In addition, many non-English-speaking countries offer courses taught in English.
  • Study abroad delays graduation
    If an engineering major studies abroad for a year and takes exclusively Chinese Calligraphy courses, then yes, that student will likely need to make up that year upon return to Iowa State. However, students who take courses toward their major (and/ or general education requirements) while abroad and coordinate those courses with their academic advisor actually graduate in 4 years at higher rates than students who stay on campus.
  • Study abroad is a semester/summer off
    Students tend to have fun when they study abroad, but they work hard, too. In fact, Iowa State partners with some world class universities such as the University of Edinburgh and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which were ranked in the top 50 in the world in 2020**
  • Study abroad is only for juniors
    Juniors make up a large contingent of our study abroad population, but Iowa State has programs that also work for freshmen and sophomores. Seniors can study abroad as long as they get the 32-credit-hour requirement waived. Iowa State encourages students to think about studying abroad at some point during their sophomore year. Many students have greater academic flexibility when they are sophomores, meaning there are many study abroad programs that will fit well. In addition, when students study abroad as a sophomore, they will have their final two years on campus, which is a great time to get involved in leadership positions on campus and take advantage of job fairs and to use the course knowledge and “soft skills” they acquired while abroad in their on-campus classes.

* IIE Open Doors Report 2020

**Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings