The world awaits you, but you can’t decide where to go? 

In the United States, 300,0000 students study abroad each year, and while destinations in Asia and Latin America are gaining popularity, 65 percent of US students still study abroad in Europe.

These are the top ten study abroad destinations for 2015 according to our booking data. We break down what each city has to offer, and the type of student we think would enjoy studying abroad in each.

1. London

Welcome to the New York City of Europe. London has been the top study abroad destination for 20 years. Of course they speak English, so for many students there isn’t a language barrier to tackle, however, London also has a wealth of free museumsa vibrant student culture and the highest number of universities ranked amongst the world’s best – 19 universities in the QS World University Rankings and two in the global top 5.

london eye

Who is the London student? Someone who wants to experience the history and magic of Europe, most likely an anglophile who has seen a BBC show or five, and someone looking to experience one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.

2. Madrid

España is the only country to have two cities in the top 10 study abroad destinations for 2015 (Madrid, #2 and Barcelona, #8). It has a robust and welcoming culture, rich history, and an exciting nightlife. Not to mention amazing food and wonderful Mediterranean climate.

Madrid Metropolis

  • Who is the Madrid student?  Someone looking to experience the Spanish lifestyle amongst the incredible architecture and art, as well as a chance to brush up on their Spanish. And food, all of the delicious, wine, cheese, tapas, churros and more food than you can imagine.

3. Paris

The “City of Lights” is top travel destination for many an Americans who dreams of living the Parisian life. For those of you who took French, it’s a great place to practice your skills. Even if you don’t speak French, Paris is a cultural leader renowned for its art and architecture and celebrated for its wine, cuisine and fashion.

Notre Dame

  • Who is the Paris student? Students interested in art, architecture and fashion are drawn to Paris. They will be able to bask in the romance of the French culture, eat their weight in pastries, and spend their nights getting to know the city that has inspired so many authors and artists.

4. Beijing

Beijing is a city that mixes the old with the new, however, the transition is still happening. In Beijing, the old is amongst the new – a very unique thing to witness. Beijing is a great place to practice your Mandarin and sample ancient traditions, as well as some very different and delicious food.

Students in Beijing

  • Who is the Beijing student? This person longs to visit the forbidden parts of the world, wants to taste and experience Chinese history and culture, and can handle being around a lot of people.

5. Dublin

The growth in the number of students studying abroad in Dublin rose over 16,000% in just seven years. It became one of the top 5 most popular study abroad destinations in 2015.

From Dublin to Galway to Cork, Ireland has an international reputation for cities that students love to live and study in. They are also known for their hospitality – the Irish were rated as the friendliest nation of people in the world by Lonely Planet in 2008 and everything you read about Ireland mentions how friendly the people are. While American students studying abroad can enjoy the comfort of being in any English-speaking country, Ireland is a great deal cheaper than its neighbors in the UK.

cliffs of moher ireland

  • Who is the Dublin student? Someone who wants a couch to sleep on in every part of the World, who loves to meet new people and try different things, and wants to be able to see all that the UK has to offer.

6. Shanghai

Shanghai experienced 344% growth in the number of students studying abroad there in the last seven years.

It’s easy to see why Shanghai is so appealing to international students. As the financial capital of China and one of China’s largest cities, Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in the world and boasts an “international spirit.” Many of Shanghai’s universities are located right in the heart of the city giving students easy access to some of the city’s most popular attractions. The city’s central location in China also provides students the ability to travel around very easily.

It’s architecture is unlike any other city, and it is also an epicenter for global commerce and innovation. It is quickly becoming home to a variety of types of people because it is such a globally-aware city.


  • Who is the Shanghai student? This student needs to know what is the next biggest thing in the world of business. They thrive in city settings, but also want to experience a brand new culture as it is emerging.

7. Rome

It’s been named the “Eternal City” and is a top destination for experiencing true Italia. Rome is where the history, romance and flavors of Italy come together in the architecture, the landscape, and the people.

rome italy

  • Who is the Rome student? This is someone who wants to experience the true “dolce vita.” This student wants to be surrounded by ancient artwork and be able to travel for the simple pleasure of sampling every kind of pasta and wine available.

8. Barcelona

The volume of students traveling to Barcelona has exploded in the last eight years. Since 2007, Barcelona has experienced a 219% increase in study abroad students.

Barcelona is the home of Catalan culture, and they are proud of it! Barcelona is the “Miami of Europe.” It’s the place to let loose by night and enjoy some incredible tapas by day.

barcelona spain

  • Who is the Barcelona student? This student is looking to experience the Spanish nightlife to it’s fullest, learn a little Catalan and is interested in sipping sangria on the beach. Also, they don’t mind getting sand in their shoes whilst taking a break from the club.

9. Tokyo

This city is where the graceful old meets the sparkling new. Tokyo has a culture that is entirely unique and this has made it a must for many students. Learn the stories behind ancient traditions by day and then experience the thrill of a robot bar by night; and those are just two of the many things you have to do while you’re there.


  • Who is the Tokyo student? Someone who can handle packing a lot of activities and energy into their experience. This person must be willing to step outside their comfort zone and immerse themselves fully into a culture.

10. Edinburgh

This green city comes packed with history and the facade to match. It has a population that is made largely of students, so the town may be old, but it doesn’t act that way. Home to one of the top institutions in the UK and the alumni of many famous minds, you could say Edinburgh was developing students before it was cool.


  • Who is the Edinburgh student? They didn’t get their letter to Hogwarts but they’re hoping it got lost in the mail. This is someone who longs to be a countess on Downton Abbey, but also really loves natural wonders and just spending time with good company.

Students studying abroad today are increasing their average length of stay in-destination and are more likely to return in the future. They are crossing borders for language immersion and engaging in jobs and internships while abroad. Additionally, according to IES Abroad, nearly half of those who have studied abroad engaged in international work or volunteerism after their studies were over.

All of these places in this post are within reach, especially with StudentUniverse’s student fares. Studying abroad will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. It will teach you more than you can imagine and you will have fun doing it. So get out there, and see all the places your travels will take you!

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    About Sarah Waddle