Earlier this week, major study abroad review website Abroad101 released its fourth annual Study Abroad Rankings survey, listing the overseas programs and sites that received the highest ratings from US students who participated in study abroad programs.

The study, conducted in partnership with student travel booking site StudentUniverse, came from a compilation of evaluations filled out by US university students who participated in short-term, for-credit academic study abroad programs. To determine the rankings, Abroad101 analyzed ratings and reviews for 1,472 different programs listed on its site.

A majority of students who submitted evaluations ranked programs in Europe the highest, with Italy claiming three of the highest-ranked programs, and Ireland, Romania, Denmark and Austria all showing up in the top ranks. Other countries that made the cut were Costa Rica in the top spot, Turkey, China (two programs) and Australia (three programs). Sydney was the only city with two different programs on the top list.

The full list of the top-ranked study abroad programs:

1.    Sol Education Abroad: Study Abroad & Spanish Immersion in Heredia 
2.    The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Gold Coast – Bond University 
3.    American College Dublin 
4.    IES Abroad: Programs in Vienna 
5.    Loyola University Chicago: The Beijing Center 
6.    Santa Reparata International School of Art: Florence 
7.    Northwestern College: Romanian Semester Program 
8.    Sant’Anna Institute: Sorrento 
9.    University of New South Wales: Sydney 
10.    Alliance for Global Education: Shanghai – International Business in China 
11.    Duke in Istanbul 
12.    CEA: Rome, Italy 
13.    DIS – Danish Institute for Study Abroad: Copenhagen 
14.    CAPA International Education: Sydney Study or Intern Abroad

However, Abroad101 cautioned that the rankings should not be taken as an objective measure of programs, since they depend on individual and personal reviews. “Rankings are only an indicator of quality, not a measure of quality,” the site wrote in its official press release.

Abroad101 also compiled a list of top Study Abroad Providers, ranking the organizations that operate these programs. The top spot was awarded to SOL Education Abroad, which specializes in Spanish language programs.

SOL co-founder Esteban Lardone said, “When we started Sol Education Abroad our mission was very simple: to treat our students the way we wanted to be treated when we studied abroad. Ten years later, our mission has not changed and it is heartwarming to see this reflected in the students’ reviews.”

The rankings included a number of different categories, including Most Livable Cities, Top Foodie Cities, Top Non-Traditional Countries and Top Budget-Friendly Countries.

For livability, Australia’s Gold Coast took the #1 spot, followed by New Zealand’s Wellington; Heredia, Costa Rica; Alicante, Spain; Dublin, Ireland; Melbourne, Australia; Dunedin, New Zealand; Beijing; Oaxaca, Mexico; and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Daring explorers ranked Iceland first in the non-traditional study abroad category, followed by Ghana, Peru, Thailand, Cuba, Norway, Panama, Hungary, United Arab Emirates and Botswana.

For students who travel following their stomachs, the top location was Chiang Mai, Thailand. Unsurprisingly, Italy came in a close second (and third), with Sorrento and Florence rounding out the top three. Other delicious destinations included Madrid and Córdoba, Spain; Milan, Italy; Gold Coast, Australia; Aix-en-Provence, France; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Pune, India.

Budget travelers found a haven in Thailand, ranked the most affordable study abroad country. Other locations that were easy on the wallet included India, Ecuador, Peru, Morocco, China, Ghana, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. 

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