Editors note: This post was recently updated to include 2021-22 program cost comparisons.

Did you know that some study abroad locations can cost you less than remaining at your UC campus for a year? It’s true! Check out these countries where you can save money and study abroad.


1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong skyline with boat

Average savings for a year abroad: $9,296

Save money while taking classes in Hong Kong. Tour the city, its distinct culture from mainland China, favorite local dishes, and more in this 3-minute guide to Hong Kong.

  • Investigate the pharmacological effects of Chinese herbs to treat health conditions.
  • Work on policies governing cross-border water services.
  • Volunteer in a local school and teach English.

Bonus: See the Top 5 Reasons to Study Abroad in Hong Kong



2. Sweden

Swedish university building

Average savings for a year abroad: $7,330

The Scandinavian town of Lund offers medieval architecture and modern coffee houses. Lund is also one of the most affordable study abroad options in Europe.

  • Progress from basic to advanced Swedish language skills by immersing in Swedish life in Lund.
  • Evaluate the quality and chemical properties of pharmaceuticals and international legal regulations on the industry.
  • Design your own independent research project!



3. Thailand

Bhumibol Bridge in Bangkok, Thailand

Average savings for a year abroad: $7,017

Just above the equator, this independent Southeast Asian country offers a tropical climate, spectacular landscapes, and welcoming people. When you study abroad in Thailand, you’ll join students from around the world in various themed studies at Thammasat University.

  • Learn how fair economic competition, sustainable development, and equitable economics translate into the global economy.
  • Visit the Thai-Burma border communities to confront public health challenges faced by migrant populations.
  • Immerse into Thai society with a language and etiquette class, then venture into the provinces outside Bangkok.



4. Mexico

UC student on a skateboard in front of a university building in Mexico

Average savings for a year abroad: $6,053

Climb a pyramid, trek a volcano, wander a floral paradise, and discover magic in ancient Aztec temples.

  • Observe the factors that shape a community’s response to illness.
  • Work with those shaping California policies on social justice for migrants.
  • Study the evolution of Mexican film as art, industry, entertainment and social testimony.



5. Singapore

Ocean and beach in Singapore

Average savings for a year abroad: $6,036

Experience the ultimate Southeast Asian blend of food, art, culture, and language. Singapore is an ultra-modern city set within a tropical landscape.

  • Perform aquatic data analysis while snorkeling through corals, sea fans, and sea sponges.
  • Discover the forces behind urban transformation through traditional, medieval, garden, and ecological city models.
  • Study microorganisms in indigenous foods and their effects on food preparation and preservation.



6. Iceland

View of aurora over Kirkjufell and waterfall. Idyllic view of Northern Lights in Iceland.

Average savings for a year abroad: $5,792

Study abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland, and you can save money while exploring the stunning Icelandic scenery.

  • Take courses that integrate the country’s natural resources and future-forward environmental protections.
  • Learn about sustainable energy measures from a country that excels in sustainable breakthroughs.
  • Explore some of the most active volcanoes in the world and witness the northern lights in the Golden Circle.


7. China

UC students at Beijing temple

Average savings for a year abroad: $4,869

Study abroad in China and you can save money while upgrading your undergraduate experience. Learn more from the 3-minute Travel Guide: Beijing and see the photos from Anna Lai’s study abroad trip to China.

  • Compare modern and classic versions of Chinese fairy tales and their continued cultural impact.
  • Learn the business tools that support making good corporate financial decisions.
  • Examine transnational relations between North and South Korea from a new vantage point.



8. Italy

View of the village of San Teodoro and Etna volcano on background. Sicily, Italy

Average savings for a year abroad: $3,732

With 11 programs in seven different cities, the options for study abroad in Italy are incredible. Learn more from the 3-minute Travel Guide: Rome and the 3-minute Travel Guide: Bologna. Check out the 15 Signs You Studied Abroad in Italy.

  • Put the final polish on your Italian language skills before applying for overseas jobs.
  • Learn about entrepreneurship the Italian way.
  • Pull on your hiking boots and conduct field research on Europe’s tallest and most active volcano.



9. Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah Park in Accra, Ghana.

Average savings for a year abroad: $3,714

Visit one of Africa’s rising economies and the first independent state–the ideal place for global and development studies, public health and social services, or environmental sustainability studies. Learn more by reading student stories like the 3-minute Travel Guide: Accra and the 12 Signs You Studied Abroad in Ghana.

  • Join students from around the world on community projects in rural villages.
  • Participate in field work, community health fairs, and service learning projects with West African foundations.
  • Take popular courses for international students in the Twi language, African dance, and tribal drumming.



10. South Korea

ukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea

Average savings for a year abroad: $3,683

Visit one of the most popular countries to study abroad in, according to UCEAP students. Learn more by reading the 3-minute Travel Guide: Seoul, and discover the foods and flavors of Asia you can savor on one of four programs at three universities.

  • Learn about changing East Asian economics, political relations, and values.
  • Choose a summer program packed with cultural activities and multi-day field trips.
  • Gain experience in international development, security, and commerce.

Bonus: Read about one student’s journey into Korea as a Korean American.


11. Barbados

Barbados beach

Average savings for a year abroad: $2,810

Get an authentic Caribbean experience and insights through field courses, lab work, and independent research on the sunny island of Barbados.

  • Share your pre-health skills with the local community working at a clinic or hospital.
  • Examine the blending of indigenous, African, French, Creole, and Spanish words and how they shaped the Caribbean lexicon.
  • Review findings from cognitive research on the role of technology and experiment with new media in classrooms.



12. Canada

Canadian skyline

Average savings for a year abroad: $2,745

Two universities on opposite sides of Canada offer a variety of study abroad opportunities while saving you loads of money.

  • Learn the science behind natural disasters and how you can predict and minimize their impact.
  • Join a coastal research facility.
  • Get field experience in topics such as aquaculture, climate change, and fish physiology.



13. Norway

Houses on river in Norway

Average savings for a year abroad: $2,593

At the University of Oslo, there’s a range of academic options as you discover the uniquely Norwegian places and ways of life that make this an amazing study abroad experience.

  • Explore the stars, planets and galaxies, and the electromagnetic radiation they generate.
  • Learn about music-related body movements in performers and analyze music-related motion.
  • Study the fundamentals of health economics and efficiency of healthcare providers.



14. Netherlands

Bike and river in Netherlands

Average savings for a year abroad: $2,383

Study abroad in student-friendly cities like Utrecht, The Hague, Maastricht, or Wageningen. Discover a different interactive education style focused on teamwork and group projects.

  • Study foodborne disease and spoilage agents for the food industry.
  • Explore how modern world governments are encouraging public entrepreneurship.
  • Investigate the socioeconomic and political transformations that have led to conflict.



Savings compare UC San Diego undergraduate rates (currently $35,067 per year) with the average cost of year-long UCEAP study abroad programs. Undergraduate rates are for California residents living off campus. Median costs for year-length options based on 2021-22 UCEAP budgets.

Source: UCEAP Research, January 2022