Program Types and Search

Program Types and Search

Each one of our almost 400 programs is unique, but options in each program type below share common characteristics. Some offer a traditional academic experience in foreign classrooms; others take place primarily in the field. Learn more about each type below.

Use the Program Search tool to narrow down your results. Each program brochure contains details for the program, including academics, housing, and costs.

Program Types





Faculty-led programs are comprised of UNC courses taken primarily with other UNC students and taught by UNC professors in a location outside of Chapel Hill. Most are offered during the summer and focus on a specific academic discipline or theme, including STEM options. The courses are offered for UNC graded credit, appear directly on your transcript, and grades factor in to your UNC GPA. Tuition and fees for faculty-led programs can be higher than costs for courses in Chapel Hill, due to the extra costs associated with offering the program abroad.


An exchange program involves directly registering in one of UNC’s partner universities for a term or academic year. This type of program offers the highest level of immersion, allowing you to take classes alongside local and international students and utilize everything the university has to offer, including access to an extensive course catalog, student organizations, and student accommodation. Exchange programs require the greatest level of student independence, typically do not include additional excursions or arranged activites, and may be extremely competitive. Exchange programs are also an affordable option because you cover academic costs by paying UNC tuition and fees rather than paying international tuition and fees – a great benefit for in-state students! Your term abroad appears on your transcript as transfer credit, and hours may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit.


UNC-Chapel Hill has a handful of proprietary programs, in which we have more oversight of the their components, specifically academics. These programs are housed in partner institutions where students enroll in courses, many that are pre-approved for general education or major/minor credit at UNC. Our partners also provide a high level of support on-site. Depending on the program, some courses may count as graded UNC credit and others as transfer credit. Transfer credit may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit.



Direct enroll programs allow students to do just that – directly enroll in an institution abroad, whether a traditional university or study abroad institute. Some concentrate on a certain academic discipline (e.g. fine arts). There is a wide variety of institutions and curricula from which to choose and typically no restrictions on the number of students who can participate! These programs differ from exchange programs in that they charge varying tuition rates established by the host institution or organization. Some provide a higher level of support services pre-departure and on-site than exchange programs. Your term abroad appears on your transcript as transfer credit, and hours may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit.


Third party providers are external organizations that run study abroad programs around the world. Some hold a variety of courses in their academic center and employ local professors and professionals as instructors while others are based at universities in the host city. A number of third party programs offer field research and internship opportunities, and/or are focused on a specific theme (e.g. “Multiculturalism and Human Rights”). Some programs offer students the opportunity to enroll in several courses at a local university, giving you a taste of an exchange or direct enroll experience. Though they may come at a higher cost, third party programs provide the hightest level of pre-departure and on-site support, as well as extracurricular amenities. They also offer significant financial aid and scholarship programs. Your term abroad appears on your transcript as transfer credit, and hours may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit.[


Click here to learn more about applying for a non-approved program.