Program Types Overview

There are four main types of study abroad programs at UNC Charlotte, plus additional opportunities for virtual programs, internships, and volunteering. This page will provide a general overview of the different program types. It is important to note that each type of program may have different deadlines, application requirements, timelines, academic benefits, etc. Students should read their program brochure carefully to ensure they follow the directions for their specific program – don’t assume that they are all the same!


Faculty-led programs are credit-bearing study abroad experiences that are developed and led by UNC Charlotte faculty and/or staff members, managed by UNC Charlotte, and that deliver specific UNC Charlotte courses partially or mostly abroad. Faculty-led programs include many group activities in their curriculum and provide a very structured study abroad experience. There are two types of faculty-led programs, embedded and freestanding. The main differences between these types is in how course registration works, how grades are processed, and how the costs are structured. Faculty-Led programs are a good fit for students who prefer a more structured program itinerary, want to go abroad as part of a group led by a UNC Charlotte faculty member, and want a shorter experience that fits during semester breaks.


The term “exchange” means that UNC Charlotte students study abroad at partner institutions and an international student studies at UNC Charlotte (essentially “swapping places”). This model is ultimately what allows UNC Charlotte students to continue to pay full-time, UNC Charlotte Tuition & Fees while they are abroad on this type of program. Exchange programs are geared towards students who are independent and ready for cultural immersion. Students will essentially be treated as a local student at the host university.

Affiliate Provider

Affiliate providers are third party organizations that facilitate study abroad, internship & volunteer programs overseas. The affiliate provider acts as a liaison between the student and host universities or organizations abroad and assists students throughout the pre-departure process and offers on-site services and support. In most cases, affiliate providers arrange housing abroad for students, provide airport pick-up services and offer an extensive on-site orientation to allow students to get acclimate to their new host city. Some affiliate providers build in cultural activities and excursions into the program, allowing students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture. Affiliate provider programs are good for students who are looking to have additional support prior to departure and upon arrival, but also looking to have more independence while abroad after they are acclimated to their new host city.

Direct Enrollment

Direct enrollment is an opportunity for a student to directly enroll at a university or institution abroad. This means that UNC Charlotte does not have an exchange agreement with the host institution nor is there a third party (i.e. affiliate provider) that acts as a liaison between the student and the host institution. Directly enrolling in an institution abroad means that the student will be working directly with the host institution in terms of applying, registering for courses, program details, costs, logistics, etc. Direct enrollment programs are a good fit for students who are self-reliant, organized, and adaptable. This program type typically does not include additional programming (i.e. excursions) or and works best for students who are looking for cultural immersion and independence while abroad.


Interning is a great way to get some hands-on experience while abroad. Students will be working with affiliate providers, which are third party organizations that facilitate study abroad, internship & volunteer programs overseas, who will arrange custom-placements for each student with a company or organization abroad. The affiliate provider acts as a liaison between the student and organization abroad and assists students throughout the pre-departure process as well as offers on-site services and support. Internship programs are best for students looking to gain real world professional experience alongside coursework taken overseas.

Virtual International Internships

Virtual international internships offer students the opportunity to engage with one or more host cultures, learn from international experts in their major field(s) of study, and develop a set of intercultural skills that employers desire and that can open doors to physical international experiences later in a student’s academic or professional career. They offer a less cost intensive way to interact with local people and communities around the world, learn language skills, and in many cases, collaborate with peers from the host culture.

Travel Registration

All UNC Charlotte students who travel abroad under the auspices of UNC Charlotte and who are not receiving academic credit (some exceptions apply) are required to register their travel with UNC Charlotte Education Abroad (EA). Registrations are independent from credited study abroad programming and are only available to students completing specific types of international travel, either as an individual or as part of a group.