Program Types and Search

Each one of our 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.

Faculty led 

Faculty led programs are developed by UNC professors, who accompany students abroad and administered by UNC SAO or HonorsCarolina. These UNC courses taken with fellow UNC peers from 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.  

You will earn UNC graded credit for these courses and grades factor into your UNC GPA.  

Costs for faculty-led programs can be higher than what you would pay for courses taken on campus in Chapel Hill, due to the extra costs associated with offering the program abroad. 

Signature

The UNC-Chapel Hill Signature programs are designed with a higher level of oversight of the program components and 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 signature partners also provide a high level of support on-site.  

Honors Carolina programs are led by UNC faculty members and are open to all UNC students with at least a 3.0 GPA.

Depending on the program, some courses may count as graded UNC credit and others as transfer credit. UNC graded credit for these courses and grades factor into your UNC GPA; transfer credit will come back as a UNC equivalent course, departmental elective, or general education/elective course with a specific study abroad grading basis. All credits may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit. 

Exchange 

A type of study abroad program where you trade places with a student from another institution. You directly register in one of our 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 often demand a high level of independence, requiring you to be able to deal with ambiguity at times. Typically, these programs do not include additional excursions or arranged activities, and may be competitive. Exchange programs are geared towards students who are independent and ready for cultural immersion. Students will essentially be treated as a local student at the host university. You’ll have onsite support from staff are at the partner institution.

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!  

Courses taken at the exchange partner institution will be eligible for transfer credit that will come back as a UNC equivalent course, departmental elective, or general education/elective course with a specific study abroad grading basis. These hours may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit. 

Direct Enroll/Non-Exchange 

These programs allow students enroll in a host institution abroad, which may be at the same institution as an exchange program, or at another 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. Direct enrollment programs are a good fit for students who are self-reliant, organized, and adaptable. This program type typically does not include additional programming (i.e. excursions) or and works best for students who are looking for cultural immersion and independence while abroad. Onsite support and staff are from the partner institution, not the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Courses taken with a direct enroll partner institution will be eligible for transfer credit that will come back as a UNC equivalent course, departmental elective, or general education/elective course with a specific study abroad grading basis. These hours may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit. 

Partner Providers 

Partner providers are independent educational organizations that administer study abroad programs around the world and are approved by UNC SAO. These programs enroll students from U.S. colleges and universities and offer a variety of experiences, including study, internships, and research. Some programs may be offered at an academic center and employ local professors and student services staff, while others may be based at universities in the host city, which provide students with a taste of an exchange or direct enroll experience but with a higher level of student services.  

Partner providers establish tuition and fee rates for their programs. Though they may come at a higher cost, partner provider programs provide the highest level of pre-departure and on-site support, as well as extracurricular amenities. In most cases, the partner program includes housing, airport pick-up services, and an extensive on-site orientation to allow students to get acclimated to their new host city. Some providers build in cultural activities and excursions into the program, allowing students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture. Onsite support and staff are from the partner provider organization, not the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

These organizations may also offer significant financial aid and scholarship programs.  

You’ll complete a UNC study abroad application and you’ll complete an application for the partner provider.

Courses taken on a partner provider program will be eligible for transfer credit that will come back as a UNC equivalent course, departmental elective, or general education/elective course with a specific study abroad grading basis. These hours may be applied as general elective, general education, or major/minor credit. 

Student Initiated Programs

Although we have a wide range of approved programs, we understand that our portfolio may not address the academic, financial, or career needs of all students. If you are interested in a study, internship, or research program that is not listed on our website, there are countless study abroad options available, allowing you to continue your enrollment at UNC while earning credit abroad. Programs must be offered through an accredited U.S. institution, third-party provider organization, or institution overseas.  

You will also need to complete a UNC Study Abroad application prior to your departure, where you must detail your academic and other reasons for pursuing the program. Students participating in these programs remain enrolled at UNC during their time abroad, have access to services through SAO, and receive transfer credit for the coursework that they complete abroad.   

Please note: this process is designed for students who wish to earn credit from their experience abroad. If you do not plan to earn credit to apply to your UNC degree program, you are not required to apply through our office. 

Learn more about applying for a student initiated program.