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Studying Abroad: Choosing a Program

Studying abroad as a post-secondary student can be a fun and fulfilling way to expand both your educational and life experience. It may help you:

  • better understand yourself and the world
  • achieve educational, personal and professional goals
  • gain interpersonal skills and independence
  • live in another culture
  • learn or build skills in another language
  • meet people, make friends and increase your network
  • enhance your employability.

Opportunities to study abroad can include:

  • exchanges between Canadian schools and schools abroad
  • special courses or semesters abroad
  • degrees abroad
  • educational travel and opportunities to complete part of your program requirements abroad
  • international internships, work placements and research opportunities.

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, give yourself plenty of time to research your options and find the opportunity that’s right for you.

Studying abroad through your Alberta post-secondary school

Many post-secondary schools offer exchanges with foreign schools and opportunities to spend between a few weeks and a semester abroad.

If you’re already enrolled in or will be attending a post-secondary school, you may be able to:

  • pay tuition to your Alberta school and take classes abroad without paying foreign student tuition fees, which are often higher
  • stay eligible for scholarships, bursaries, grants or loans you’re currently receiving
  • transfer credit for courses taken abroad directly to your Alberta-based program
  • receive credit from your Alberta school for participating in a study abroad program.

If you’re considering using the credits you’ve gained abroad, ensure they will be recognized by your Alberta program:

  • Speak to a student advisor at your Alberta school for help understanding the process and eligibility and transfer requirements.
  • Make sure you have the approval of your faculty or program to study abroad.
  • Choose a school abroad that has exchange and credit transfer status with your Alberta school.
  • Complete the study abroad application and registration process through your Alberta school and pay the applicable fees.
  • Plan to bring back a syllabus and detailed course outlines from your school abroad. These should include topics, textbooks, grading practices, the number of weeks of classes, and the numbers of lab, tutorial and lecture hours per week. This information will help get your credit recognized if there’s ever a problem.

To check out the opportunities at your school, ask a student advisor or visit your school’s website and use the following related search terms:

  • study abroad
  • student exchange
  • educational travel
  • international study
  • international internship.

A list of public post-secondary schools can be found on the ApplyAlberta website.

Alberta Programs for Study Abroad

Alberta Advanced Education provides support for programs that provide international work and study experiences for students.

Check with the Study Abroad or International Office of your post-secondary school to learn more about these and other study abroad opportunities or visit the Domestic Students section of the Alberta Advanced Education website.

Studying abroad on your own

You don’t need to be enrolled in an Alberta post-secondary school to study abroad:

  • Contact the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials for a copy of the fact sheet Information for Canadian Students Planning to Study Abroad.
  • Find out if the school abroad you’re interested in will accept your existing educational credentials, e.g. Alberta high school or post-secondary credits.
  • Ensure that the credits you earn in a program abroad will be recognized by an Alberta school, in case you’re unable to complete your studies abroad and need to transfer your credits.

Returning to Alberta with foreign credentials

Note: It’s your responsibility to ensure your foreign credentials will be recognized in Alberta.

If you plan to study at a school that is not an exchange partner with an Alberta school, your credentials may not be recognized in Alberta. As a result, you may not be able to work in your occupation when you return.

If you’re studying to enter a regulated occupation in Alberta, check with the occupation’s professional regulatory organization before you enrol to find out if your credential will meet the licensing requirements for foreign-trained professionals. For some occupations, such as in medicine and teaching, it can be very difficult to obtain a licence to work in Alberta if your credentials are from outside Canada, regardless of your citizenship. You may have to take additional courses and exams to qualify for a licence. Before you enrol, look into the following:

  • Will the credentials (certificate, degree) you receive from a foreign school be recognized in Alberta?
  • Will you be eligible for an internship or residency position in Canada if it’s a requirement of your program? In many occupations, Albertans who study outside Canada may not be eligible for internships or residencies in Alberta.

If your area of study is for an occupation that is not regulated, talk to potential Alberta employers to see whether they would hire someone with the foreign credentials you’re planning to achieve.

Visit the Certification Requirements section at OCCinfo for more information. 

Find out more about studying abroad

Deciding on a program and getting accepted at a post-secondary school abroad are not the only steps involved in making your study abroad opportunity a reality. See the Article Studying Abroad: Getting Ready to Go for more information on how to prepare for your study abroad experience.

Additional Information

For more information about studying abroad, see these resources:

For information about funding post-secondary education, visit:

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