It’s important to think about more than just geography, program length, or up-front costs when contemplating study abroad. How well a program fits your academic goals will actually determine how much "bang for your buck" you will achieve. A program that may appear less expensive on paper at first will definitely end up costing you more in the long run if it means you have to make up classes over summer or spend an additional semester at the UofM. Consider how well a program actually fits into your overall degree plan. Ask yourself:
If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, check out the Academics section of the website, and if you haven’t already, stop in to the Learning Abroad Center to attend a First Step Meeting or complete it online. If you have more questions after attending a First Step Session, make an appointment with a Learning Abroad Center program selection adviser for additional guidance.
If you have a major or minor selected, then you can get a short list of programs that work well for completing your requirements on the Study Abroad Major Advising Pages (MAPs). This section of the website is maintained by the Learning Abroad Center in collaboration with academic departments across campus.
If the program you have in mind doesn’t meet specific academic goals, you may want to reconsider. Let’s just say there are cheaper ways to get to the beach if that’s your only goal. Study abroad is well worth the investment, but it is an expensive proposition, and you’ll want to be sure you are making progress toward your degree while abroad.
That said, you may not know exactly what you plan to major or minor in, or where your degree will lead you once you graduate. Some students use study abroad to explore a new academic area of interest or gain a new perspective on a topic. That works too—just be sure you’ve got some clear goals in mind if you go this route.
The Comparing Costs section will instruct you on how to calculate the nominal cost per credit for a program. You’ll see that often longer term programs—semester or year long—are actually LESS expensive than short term programs. Also, these programs often offer more course choice, allowing you to fulfill coursework requirements more easily.