woman carrying white and green textbook

Are you wondering how and where to go to study abroad as an exchange student? Do you want to know the features of this program and what documents you need to prepare? Then read this article from the learn-travel-learn.com. 

Studying abroad as an exchange program for students – a brief description of the program

Studying abroad through an exchange program means that a part of the time (e.g., one semester or a whole year), the student studies at a foreign university. If he or she is an exchange partner at the home institution, the courses studied there (some or all of them) will also be given credit when the student returns to his or her home institution.

Thus, the study at the native university is not interrupted, and academic debts are not formed. Such projects are possible for future bachelors or specialists, as well as for masters. Bachelor’s students usually participate in such programs during their first and second years.

The university provides such opportunities for specialist students up to their third year, while the exchange master’s program can be completed entirely abroad. Graduate students also often participate in similar programs. It is even easier for them to get the coveted tuition grant.

International student exchange programs fall into three categories:

  1. By referral from one’s own institution. In this case, it must have a foreign partner university with which a formal agreement has been concluded within the framework of certain areas of study. The list of such universities is quite extensive. Information about exchange programs is always available on their websites. Therefore it makes sense to choose one of them to enter and then simply participate in the competitive selection within the university.
  2. If you find out while you are already a student that your university does not participate in international student exchange programs, do not rush to grief. There is still a chance for you to go on an exchange program. You can take another route – apply to a program offered by one of the foreign universities. They have a competitive selection process for students from many countries around the world. There are, of course, a lot of people who want to get there. But why not try?
  3. The third option for those who do not fit the first two is to apply directly to an independent organization that recruits students for such programs (for example, a foreign embassy).

How to go to exchange programs

Gennady Yagupov advises you on how to properly organize your trip to exchange study on your own:

  • You need to choose a specialty close to the one you are studying at your native university. Check which foreign educational institutions have the direction you are interested in. From the list of these countries, choose the most acceptable option, taking into account knowledge of a foreign language.
  • Find an organization that deals with student exchanges. It is great if your school participates in such a program and it has agreements with foreign organizations or with the institutions themselves on international student exchange. This makes your task much easier. If your home institution does not have a suitable option for you, you can contact the specialized institution in the country where you plan to study. They deal with issues of cultural and student exchange between countries. They should have offices in your country.
  • Another option is to apply directly to a foreign university if it has its own student exchange program and the establishment of friendly relations.
  • Well, if you do not want to explore the programs of all universities and organizations, you can go to the intermediary firm (usually engaged in this travel agencies), which for a fee, will help to determine the choice and to collect the necessary documents.
  • It is worth carefully studying all the programs offered in the chosen direction. They may differ not only in the subjects studied but also in the duration of the training, as well as the benefits offered (to be paid or free – in whole or in part).
  • It is necessary to collect and prepare the necessary package of documents. Translate the documents into a foreign language and have them certified by a notary if necessary.
  • Once the program is selected, you need to apply for participation. If the chosen university is a partner of your home institution, you can submit the application at your home institution. In other cases, it should be forwarded to the foreign university. Competitive selection usually takes place in several stages. All applicants may be invited to an interview or an additional test that involves all applicants. Be prepared for the fact that you will be asked to write an essay stating your motives for studying abroad.
  • The last step is preparing for your trip. If the foreign language test is not good enough, you may have to attend additional classes. Usually, they are organized by the Russian university if you are going to study as part of its exchange program – talks Yagupov Gennady.

What countries can you go to


To study for an exchange in the U.S., you can take part in the Global UGRAD program, which accepts young people from sixty different countries, including citizens of the Russian Federation. In Russia, it is available to graduates of the English Access Microscholarship Program.

Students who study at popular American universities take an active part not only in the activities of the institution but also in social life. In addition to the usual subjects, international students study the history, literature, and art of this country.

Another U.S. program for Russian students is YEAR (Year of Exchange in America for Russians), which allows you to study in the U.S. for a year at a college or university.


Canada offers a Work and Study Canada program. Its peculiarity is a combination of training and internship. After completing this program, international students have a real opportunity to get a job in Canada in their specialty and help with immigration.

The program may last from six months to eighteen months, depending on the terms of the contract, and training is provided in English or French, depending on the student’s choice. Priority is given to training specialists in the high-tech sphere, including IT.

EU countries

All EU countries take part in international student exchange programs. In first place in popularity is the Erasmus+ program, especially in Germany, France, and Spain. In this case, the financial support is provided by the home university and the European Union.

Previously it was aimed only at students from European universities, but now under the expanded Erasmus Mundus program, students from other countries can also count on studying in Europe. Such a program can last from three months to a year. All grades are entered into the credit book of the home university.

In Germany, in addition, there is a service for academic exchange DAAD. It finances exchange programs, including support for foreign students and graduate students. Therefore, participation in the program is completely free! True, there are some nuances – you study only four weeks, and at the same time during the summer vacations.

Great Britain

The United Kingdom, along with the EU countries, also takes part in the Erasmus + program. In addition, she offers a program called the Sandwich course. It is designed for professional learning of English in the chosen field and its practical application. At the beginning of training, the student learns English, depending on its initial level of 4 to 16 weeks, and then undergoes training in their chosen field.

This can be marketing, finance, IT technology, areas in advertising and public relations, and tourism. In the case of choosing an internship in the hotels and catering sphere, the internship will be paid. At the end of the internship, students return to the language school for a week.


Undergraduate and postgraduate students at those universities that have agreements with Chinese partners have the chance to complete one semester of student exchange training in language internship programs. Students will have to take a practical course in the Chinese language, as well as study the national culture and art, calligraphy, and other subtleties of Chinese studies.

Training in Chinese universities may be completely free, but payment of accommodation and other expenses depends on the chosen institution and the availability of full or partial grants. To participate in this program, you need to have a level of English of at least A2, as well as have no academic debts.

As an example, you can take a look at the student exchange program at the Chinese university Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics.


Student exchange programs at Australian universities are designed for one or two semesters. They allow you to take the credits for the subjects listed in the exchange agreement between your institution and the partner university. So you can spend a year in Australia and return to your own group without serious debts in your studies. An example of such a university is Curtin University in Australia.

Some organizations undertake study in Australia as part of student exchanges to improve English language skills. These courses are arranged during the winter and summer vacations and can last from one to four weeks. In addition to learning the language, students learn about the customs and culture of the country and its attractions and take part in a variety of activities and excursions.

The benefits of exchange study

In addition to receiving a prestigious, highly competitive education from the best professors at the partner university, the most important result of such an exchange is the acquisition of certain skills, which are called soft skills. These are skills that are not directly related to professional skills but allow them to successfully engage in any work process – for example, the ability to cooperate productively with partners, the ability to quickly adapt to the learning or work environment and to socialize in a new environment and with new colleagues.

Being in a foreign country requires students to learn new things, from public transportation to get used to living in a dormitory or with a foster family, and that takes some effort.

Numerous studies show that students who have studied or interned abroad for at least a semester are better able to analyze incoming information, generate their own ideas, and make well-informed decisions.

The approach to teaching the same subjects in your country and abroad may be different, allowing students to experience a different perspective on the subject and greatly expanding their horizons of perception. Universities that support the student exchange program strive to produce professionals who can work in the field of international cooperation. Therefore, students benefit greatly from skills in using international business tools and techniques that make them competitive in the marketplace for their professional services offerings.

Such experience helps the student to decide on the further direction in educational and scientific activity and to find the best application of their abilities.

Exchange students receive either a certificate or a second diploma from a foreign institution, allowing them to continue their studies abroad or begin their careers there.

Exchange study is one of the highlights of student life and an unforgettable experience living and traveling in a foreign country. It is a great opportunity to adjust to its culture, traditions, and local mentality, improve your knowledge of a foreign language, communicate directly with native speakers, and make friends abroad and possible future colleagues. Students return to their home country after studying abroad more independently and organized, with developed leadership qualities, which has a better effect on their studies and future career.

About the author

Kyrie Mattos