The exchange programme is designed to provide University of Aberdeen students with an opportunity to spend an academic year at a university or college in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong or Japan as part of their degree.

Will it make my degree a year longer?

No; the year spent on exchange counts as the year you would have spent in Aberdeen. The credits you earn at your host institution will be recognised at the University of Aberdeen and will count towards the award of your degree.

Can any student go on the exchange?

No. Students studying medicine and dentistry are not eligible. There are restrictions for students studying law. If you are a law student wishing to participate in the international exchange programme, please discuss options with staff from the School of Law.

Students studying Psychology and Engineering can only participate in their second year of study.

Note: please check with your department to make sure they are happy for you to go on exchange!

What year can I go in?

Most students go in their 2nd year. Students wishing to go in their 3rd year should check with their department first.

How many students do you send on the exchange every year?

We aim to place as many students as possible on the exchange programme. Currently, we have approximately 100 spaces per year.

How much will it cost?

You will pay your tuition fees to the University of Aberdeen as you would normally, but you will need to pay accommodation and food and all the other costs that you normally have in an academic year to your host university. So, the academic year on Exchange will require all the funds that you normally require for the year in Aberdeen plus extra to cover your airfare, any travelling you wish to do whilst you are over there and other incidental expenses. It is impossible to say how much individuals will spend as people vary just as the institutions vary. However, you are urged to try and find at least an additional £2000 so that you can take advantage of the wide range of opportunities available.

Can I still get any loans, bursaries or awards that I currently receive?

You are entitled to claim or arrange any awards, loans and bursaries that you have for this year for next year.

So how do I apply?

The application opens in mid-January each year and the deadline for submission will be the last Friday in January.  If you are accepted you will then be instructed to complete the application form specific to your exchange institution.

How do I choose where I want to go to study?

You are asked to choose up to 5 institutions to which you would like to go. This selection should be based primarily on academic suitability and compatibility of the courses offered by those institutions. However, you should also take into consideration such factors as the size of the institution (these vary from 1000 to over 35,000 students), the size of the community in which the institution is located, the geographical location of the institution and the climate. If you are selected, the offer of a place at one of your listed institutions cannot be guaranteed but every effort will be made to meet your preference. Look at the catalogues and visit the websites for information, as it is your responsibility to find a suitable exchange site.

What is the difference between a ‘college’ and ‘university’ in North America?

In the United States, when you ask someone what differentiates the two, the first response is likely to be "not much."

How they're basically the same:

  • While many factors affect the quality of an institution, the same type of Baccalaureate or Bachelor's degrees can be conferred by both colleges and universities.
  • Admission requirements differ according only to selectivity- highly ranked colleges are often more selective than universities.
  • Both colleges and universities can be either privately or publicly operated.
  • The phrase "going to college" is used to mean attending any university or college in the U.S.

How they generally differ:

  • Colleges tend to be smaller, with smaller class sizes and students receiving more personal attention from faculty.
  • Universities offer Masters and Doctorate degrees-requiring completion of the Bachelors degree first.
  • Universities tend to be larger, with faculty time and attention divided between research and teaching.
  • Some large Universities will have divisions named "The College of Liberal Arts" or the "College of Engineering".

Do not be put off applying to a college – you will likely be getting great facilities (North Americans pay high tuition fees to go to these colleges) and a lot of care and attention due to the small class sizes.

What kind of student are we looking for?

There is no one type who we are looking for, many different kinds of people will benefit from the exchange. But, we are certainly looking for the following things:

  • Students who are doing well in all their courses in Aberdeen
  • Students who are prepared to work hard on exchange as their workload whilst away may be heavier than at Aberdeen
  • Students who will be good ambassadors for the University of Aberdeen

Will a medical condition stop me being able to take part in the exchange?

Applicants suffering from medical conditions which require recurrent treatment or medication or who have a disability, should give the consideration to the possible consequences of spending a year on exchange. Some pre-existing medical conditions are likely to make it extremely difficult to obtain satisfactory medical insurance, without which you cannot participate. For those with a disability, please discuss your particular needs with the International Exchange Co-ordinator first to check which host institutions can meet your needs and expectations.

Do students ever get turned down for the exchange?

Yes; there are limited exchange places and the process is competitive. Declining an application can be due to reasons such as exam grades, weak personal statements or placement limitations.

Can I change my mind and not go after I have applied?

You can change your mind at any stage, but the later you leave it, the more difficult it will be to change for all involved. Please think carefully before you apply and talk it over with your family and friends. The next opportunity to change your mind is when we offer you a place. If you accept a place which you subsequently don’t use, you will be stopping somebody on the reserve list from getting a chance to go on exchange. You might also be wasting time and perhaps money if you decide very late in the day. Having said that, it is better to withdraw before you actually go rather than going and then coming back early.

More questions?

If you have any further questions, please email