Student Exchange Program - Everything You Need To Know

A student exchange program is a specifically designed program for students of senior secondary school or university to spend a term or a semester at one of their institution’s partner institutions. As per the arrangement, a partner institution accepts a student but does not necessarily require that the students have to find a counterpart from another institution for exchange.

A student exchange program can be either short term exchange (one week to three months) or long term exchange (six months to one year). Students on an exchange program live with a host family or in a designated place such as a hostel, an apartment, or a student lodging.

Cost of being an exchange student

The costs for the program vary by the country and the institution chosen by a student. Also the duration of the course contributes significantly to the expenses incurred. According to, many organizations charge between $9,000 and $10,000 for a year-long exchange, although Rotary International (a worldwide service club) may facilitate exchanges for a much lower price. These charges generally include insurance, a flight, and a travel visa. The personal expenses are exclusive of the charges paid to any organisation.

What are the benefits of a student exchange program?

  • Better understanding and tolerance of different cultures and traditions
  • Understanding of history of different nations
  • Practical training and better employment opportunities
  • Improved language skills
  • Broadening social horizons
  • Offers academic credit

Application Process

Applications for a long term exchange program generally start ten months prior to the commencement of program, but sometimes as little as four months. The pre-requisites for a successful application are:

  • A letter of approval for the exchange program by the applicant’s home institution
  • Prescribed application forms for Admissions
  • A letter of recommendation from the applicant’s home institution
  • Academic transcripts issued by the applicant’s home institution
  • Certificate of proficiency in English language may be required in some cases     


You may contact any reputed student exchange organisation but be wary that it should be CSIET listed. Some top organisations that provide excellent exchange programs facilities:


Sponsors educational and cross cultural exchange programs in most of ‘western Europe’, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and other Latin American countries. ASSE has decades of experience on which you can count upon if you wish to send your child abroad.

National Student Exchange (NSE)

Provides affordable and practical opportunities for students to study in a different state rather than a different country. NSE operates at member colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


An international not-for-profit organization that provides over 20,000 students and recent graduates the opportunity to live and intern in another country. The students belong from colleges with different majors and the program provides leadership training and internship opportunities at for-profit and not for profit organizations. It is the largest student-run organization in the world.

Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)

It has been matching exchange students with families since 1947 and has decades of experience into successful international interactions.

Rotary Youth Exchange (Rotary)

Every year over 8,000 students and 80 countries participate in Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program. It is a popular choice among many parents because it offers services for a relatively low cost.

Youth for Understanding (YFU)

It is one of the largest and most well respected exchange programs in the world and operates in 64 countries worldwide.

While student exchange programs provide a lot of exposure to students, they may provide culture shock to tender minds and render them home sick.

Have you ever participated in a student exchange program? Share your experiences below!