Should a Student Study Abroad in US or Canada ?

Written By Trent Lorcher

The benefits of studying abroad go beyond what takes place in the classroom. What goes on in the classroom, however, is important. The United States and Canada have become premier destinations for study abroad students because both countries offer some of the world’s best educational institutions along with opportunities outside of the classroom for personal and social development.

But which of the two countries should you choose for your student’s study abroad? The US. or Canada?

Study Abroad in the US and Canada

Regardless of which of the two countries you choose, you'll have no trouble finding a high-quality school that respects cultural differences.


The governments in both countries invest heavily in education. The United States' massive education system provides areas of study in about every subject imaginable. The US boasts 6 of the top 10 universities in the world, in addition to numerous public high schools. If you choose to study abroad in the United States, you'll have no trouble finding a way to pursue your passion at a quality school.

The US does not have a North American monopoly on opportunities for study abroad students. Like the United States, Canada considers education the foundation for social and economic development and funds its schools accordingly. Canada boasts an excellent public education system and many of the top universities in the world.

Language and Culture

Although the United States and Canada are two distinct countries, they share the same language and have similar cultures. You'll find differences, of course, just like you find regional cultural differences within each country, but both nations share similar customs, holidays, and religions. One of the bonuses of studying abroad in either the US or Canada is the cultural diversity both countries enjoy. The US and Canada are popular studies abroad destinations for Vietnamese students.

General Educational Setup

Canada and the United States employ a K-12 public education system, culminating in 4 years of high school--grades 9-12. Although most high schools in the US and Canada are public schools with attendance based on location, there are also private schools, religious schools, and boarding schools that require tuition. A rise in public charter schools in both countries offers more choices for American, Canadian, and study abroad students without the need to pay tuition.

Both American and Canadian high schools offer extracurricular activities which include sports and clubs. These extracurricular clubs and sports offer a great way for exchange students to integrate into the social life of their high schools.


If you're looking to graduate from a high school during your study abroad experience, you'll want to make sure you look at a school's graduation requirements. Some schools in the United States won't offer a high school diploma from that school if you only study one year there. Most schools in Canada, however, will give you a degree even if you only attend the school your final year. If you wish to obtain a high school diploma, check with individual schools on the requirements.

English Requirements

You'll need to know at least some English while studying abroad in the US or Canada. In the US, study abroad students must show proficiency in English through a standardized test. The test you take depends on the school. Few schools accept study abroad students who do not have English proficiency. English proficiency is not usually a requirement for Canadian schools. Canadian schools offer English language learning programs for students who do not show English proficiency.

After High School

University entry varies per country. For example, Vietnamese students who graduate from high school in the US have little trouble gaining admission to an American university. Canadian universities have much tougher entry requirements, which makes it difficult for Vietnamese students who graduate high school in Vietnam to qualify without an international English certificate. Those wishing to attend a university in Canada would increase their chances significantly with a high school diploma from Canada.

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About the author

Trent Lorcher has taught high school English for 19 years. In addition to hosting a foreign exchange student from China, he's traveled extensively, including 18 months in Central America, 2 years in Italy, and additional time in Mexico, France, Morocco, and Spain. He dreams of one day retiring to Spain with his beautiful bride in a place big enough for their 5 kids to visit.

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