General Information

CIEE stands for the Council on International Educational Exchange. It is a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting international education and cultural exchange programs. CIEE offers a wide range of study abroad and exchange programs for students, educators, and professionals. These programs include semester and summer study abroad programs, internships, language immersion programs, and other educational and cultural experiences in various countries around the world. CIEE aims to foster cross-cultural understanding and global awareness by facilitating educational and immersive experiences that allow individuals to learn about different cultures, languages, and perspectives. The organization has been a significant player in the field of international education and exchange for many years, and it continues to provide opportunities for people to explore the world and expand their horizons through educational travel and cultural immersion.

First Year Abroad (FYA) is designed for students who want to start their college experience with an immersive study abroad experience. Here are some key characteristics of the FYA program at CIEE:

  • Early Study Abroad: FYA allows students to study abroad during their first year of college. This is relatively uncommon, as most students typically study abroad during their sophomore or junior years.
  • Location Options: CIEE offers a range of destinations where students can participate in a FYA program. The specific locations may vary from year to year, but they often include various cities in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and other regions.
  • Academics: FYA programs usually include a mix of general education courses, language study (if applicable), and electives. Students can earn college credits that may count toward their degree requirements.
  • Cultural Immersion: FYA programs emphasize cultural immersion and experiential learning. Students often have the opportunity to engage with local communities, participate in cultural activities, and gain a deeper understanding of the host culture.
  • Support: CIEE provides support services to assist students with their transition to studying abroad. This may include orientation sessions, housing assistance, and on-site staff to offer guidance and support throughout the program.
  • Language Learning: Depending on the program location, students may have the chance to improve their language skills through coursework and immersion in a foreign language environment.
  • Duration: FYA program duration can vary, but it's often a semester or a full academic year.
  • You must be 18 years or older at the time of program departure.
  • You must be a high school graduate with a 2.7 minimum high school GPA to be considered competitive for admission (weighted 4.0 scale)
  • You must be a recent high school graduate (no more than 18 months post-high school graduation).
  • You must be in your first year of college, having completed no more than one semester of college post-high school graduation
  • You have read, understood, and agreed to the terms outlined in the CIEE First Year Abroad Terms and Conditions.
  • You must be able to manage all necessary self-care, including maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration, dressing appropriately for environmental conditions, and maintaining personal hygiene.
  • You are required to manage themselves any prescribed medications; including adhering to required prescribed dosages of medication, for the duration of the program.
  • You must agree to travel to the program with any prescribed medications that will last the duration of the program.
  • You cannot be undergoing legally adjudicated or court mandated therapy. You must also be able to manage your behaviors and actions without requiring constant therapeutic interventions.
  • You must comply with all program policies related to health, safety and security.
  • You must be responsible for your own behavior.
  • You must maintain a reasonable level of situational awareness appropriate to circumstances.
  • You must be able to tolerate and function effectively in an environment where you may not speak the language or where you are not culturally competent.
  • You may need be able to tolerate significant levels of ambivalence and ambiguity that naturally occurs when one encounters a different culture than one’s own especially if you did not grow up speaking the local language
  • You must be able to tolerate and function effectively in conditions that are of a standard potentially different from that to which you are accustomed including different standards of:
    • Diet
    • Accommodations
    • Communications
    • Sanitation
  • You must be able to tolerate and function effectively in an environment that may have predominating cultural constructs that may be very different from your own in regards to:
    • Communications
    • Time
    • Personal Space
  • You must be able to tolerate, function effectively and behave in a respectful manner in an environment that may have predominating cultural values and views that are very different from your own in areas that may include:
    • Gender Roles
    • Sexual Identity
    • Religion
    • Individualism
    • Politics
  • You must be able to tolerate and function effectively in an environment, which may potentially include warmer or colder temperatures, dust, tropical sun, air pollution, and insects.
  • You must be able to understand and apply all provided health, safety and security information and directives.
  • You must be responsible for your own belongings.
  • You must be able to navigate and travel independently to and from program destination.
  • You must be able to navigate and travel independently within the program country utilizing primarily public transportation.

Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, and Spain

The participant and participant’s legal guardian (if the participant is under 18) will view and sign the Program Terms & Conditions electronically via their My CIEE Account.

On Program

Our pre-departure courses will help you get ready for your program and cover most frequently asked questions about your destination. We typically cover key topics that help you get in the right frame of mind and make the best choices when considering packing (e.g., cultural norms for clothing) and making travel arrangements (e.g., visa requirements). The course is designed to help you connect with CIEE and your fellow participants, learn how to transition into everyday life in your host culture, prepare for the academic parts of your program, and learn all the logistical information you need to be ready to go. We also encourage all our participants to be curious about their future host countries and start researching them online as soon as they’re confirmed!

Participants are responsible for purchasing their flights to and from the city where they will be participating in first-year abroad. Students will have a chance to connect with other participants via their online pre-departure orientation. This is a great opportunity to exchange contact information and discuss the possibility of traveling together.

Depending on your program location, students will live in either a residence hall or with a carefully selected host family. Find out more information on our program pages.

No. All courses are instructed in English, with the exception of upper-level foreign language courses. It helps if you’re able to speak some of the local language, but you’ll be surprised how much of the language you’ll learn in a short period of time!

CIEE students are not able to select their homestay or choose to stay with relatives during their program. This is because each homestay must go through a screening process so that we can ensure proper and quality placements for each student that travels on our programs.

Many participants on program utilize public transportation in their area of placement to navigate to and from their classes each day. CIEE center staff inform and prepare students during their orientation on how to navigate their area of placement and best practices regarding public transportation.

It is highly recommended that students purchase a phone plan while on program. International phone plans can be costly, so we recommend that students bring an unlocked phone by their provider and purchase a SIM card upon arrival. This allows them to communicate directly with center staff, their homestay, and the friends they make!

Due to visa restrictions, students are not allowed to have a job or intern while on program, as it is not allowed with a tourist visa. Students are recommended to allocate a reasonable amount of spending money for the duration of their program.

Yes, students are allowed to travel while on some programs, but there are restrictions and every program country has different rules. Under no circumstances are students excused from classes and program activities to travel. Students are also expected to communicate their travel plans to their host family.

We want you to be fully immersed and focused on your program and new friends!  

If your family is interested in traveling with you before or after the program, that’s great! Just make sure you make personal travel plans outside of your CIEE program dates. 

CIEE recommends that participants travel with a debit card to access cash, and a credit card to use in case of an emergency. Please note that not all US credit cards are widely accepted abroad. All participants should check with their bank to see what the bank’s policy is in regard to withdrawing funds and using bank-issued debit/credit cards abroad. In many countries, the preferred means of payment is still cash, so having access to cash is very important. We discourage participants from using either traveler’s checks or personal checks while abroad.  CIEE will provide more specific, detailed information on accessing money for the country in which you will be studying, during the pre-departure orientation.

Application Support

Select a program and apply today!

  • Passport that is valid 6 months after your program ends
  • High School Diploma and Transcript
  • Parent or Guardian

Book a call with your enrollment coordinator here! Select a name from the drop-down menu to see the availability of the coordinator in your territory.

Credit Transfer

Some colleges are amenable to deferring admission for students. A number of highly selective colleges actually recommend that students consider a year off before starting on-campus as a means to mature emotionally and intellectually. Please check with your college of choice for their policies regarding deferment of admission.

 Yes! First-Year Abroad is a college study abroad program. All students will enroll in 12-13 U.S semester credits through Dean College and receive an official academic transcript outlining courses taken, semester credits earned, and final grades.

If you are interested in continuing your academic studies at a school other than Dean College, it is up to that college or university to decide whether or not they will issue transfer credit for the courses through Dean College. 

All students can order an official transfer transcript from Dean College following their FYA program. Transfer credit is awarded based on your official Dean College transcript

Every college or university has its own transfer credit policy. It’s important to become familiar with your prospective transfer institution’s transfer credit policy. This policy is generally listed on the institution’s admissions or registrar website

FYA courses are designed as 100- and 200-level general education courses that are required for most undergraduate degrees awarded by US-based colleges and universities. All courses are designed to be highly transferable, however the exact general education or common core requirements for every degree vary by college or university.

There are different ways credits can transfer to another institution. These options vary by institution so it’s important to review the options for your specific institution. Below are general options you may see at colleges and universities.

  • Direct equivalent – these courses are considered an equivalent of a course that is offered by the transfer receiving institution.
  • Elective – these courses are awarded credit but may not have a direct equivalent available at the transfer-receiving institution. Elective credit can be specific to one academic discipline or open.
  • General transfer credit – these courses are awarded credit that is generally not connected to an academic discipline or degree requirement but goes towards the total number of credits needed to earn a degree.
  • No credit – these courses are not awarded credit by the transfer receiving institution.

The only entity that can guarantee how transfer credit is awarded is the transfer receiving college or university. This is true for FYA credit as well as any credit earned through AP, IB, a community college, or other 4-year institution. There are numerous tools to help predict how credit will transfer to another college or university. FYA’s Transfer Admission Partner Colleges and Universities will evaluate FYA courses for transfer credit annually to provide greater insight into the transfer credit process at their institution.

Many colleges and universities have a transfer equivalency database. This database allows you to view how the course you completed has historically transferred to the institution. Transfer equivalency databases can generally be found on an institution’s transfer center, registrar, or admissions website.


You will need the Dean College course number to search an institution’s transfer equivalency database. You can use the articulation table on CIEE’s FYA website to convert your CIEE course numbers to Dean College course numbers.

You can request your official academic transcript from Dean College at the end of the program.  You can order your Dean College transcript online in an electronic or hardcopy format. 

Safety & Risk Management

CIEE does not require COVID vaccinations for participants, but certain countries may have COVID or other types of vaccinations required in order to legally enter the country. Please ensure that you research your destination and get any required vaccinations prior to traveling.

In general – yes! However, some countries have strict regulations regarding the type of medication as well as the legal dosage allowed in the country. Please do research on any unauthorized prescription medications that you plan to bring with you prior to departure. If your medication is allowed, please ensure to bring enough to last the duration of your program. If for any reason you run out, please immediately contact the CIEE center staff in your program destination.

Our first priority is student health and wellness. Because of this, CIEE requests that students submit physical health forms for reviewing purposes to verify that students are both physically and mentally healthy to participate in a program. This form is accessible via your application to view and print.

All students are covered by iNext international travel protection in addition to any coverage provided by their primary insurance provider. The iNext policy covers any unforeseen or unexpected accidents or illnesses while abroad. If students require medical attention, they will often have to pay up-front for any costs and then submit a claim online following the instructions on the iNext website.

CIEE is dedicated to providing all participants and parents with comprehensive support throughout the duration of the program. CIEE’s on-site program staff is the first source of assistance locally. The center staff is trained and experienced in managing conflict, assisting with cultural adjustment issues, and providing support for emergency situations. Our staff is knowledgeable, experienced, and more than happy to answer questions, provide assistance, or discuss student concerns. The CIEE on-site staff is available 24/7 via phone and is also available by email or MS Teams.

Costs & Fees

You must have a valid passport to join First Year Abroad. If you already have a passport, make sure that it will be valid for six months after your program ends. If you need a new passport or need to renew your existing one, please visit the U.S. Department of State website. Do not wait until the last minute to apply for a passport! That process can take months and participants will not be refunded for their program if their passport does not arrive in time for their departure to the host country. 

Due to the length of the First-Year Abroad program, you do not need a visa for the First-Year Abroad program. However, if you've traveled to Europe in the last 6 months or hold a non-US passport, please contact us to discuss whether you may need a visa to participate.

Participants must be a minimum of 18 years old at the time of departure. View your program webpage for your specific program dates.

There are two components to the overall First Year Abroad program cost:

  • Academic home tuition and enrollment fee
  • Study abroad program fees

All program fees will be billed and paid directly to Dean College with the exception of the application fee, which is paid to CIEE. 

First-Year Abroad participants are full-time degree-seeking students at Dean College and are eligible to access financial aid accordingly.

The FAFSA, a free application, is required for citizens and permanent residents of the United States who wish to apply for federal student aid, including federal grants, and loans. The FAFSA is also used to apply for state funds. Use Dean’s federal school code—002144—when you complete the online application at the Federal Student Aid website. 

See our Funding page.