How to Add Study Abroad Experience to Your Resume

study abroad on resume

Adding your study abroad program to your resume can show that you’ve had a healthy amount of prior life experiences. And it can encourage employers to look at you as a unique candidate. Additionally, it can create some conversation points for the interview.

So how do you put your study abroad program on your resume and ensure that your future employer finds this information?

Before we jump into the formatting and placement options for your resume, cover letter, and resume summary. Let’s dig into the study abroad program and how it helps your job application assets.

Can I Put My Study Abroad Program on My Resume?

Yes, you can. If you are curious about the format that you should use when adding your study abroad program to your resume, it is quite simple. It should be included as your “Education” section on your resume.

You can add your program right to your education experience. For example, here is what education experience looks like without a study abroad program:

Stanford University
2012-2016
Computer Science, BSA (3.4GPA)

Pretty simple, right?

If you had a study abroad program though, you would list your prior education like this:

Stanford University, Naples, Italy
2012-2016
Computer Science, BSA (3.4GPA)

That indicates that the location that you were in during your tenure happened to be part of a study abroad program.

Now you probably won’t be part of your study abroad program for four years. It may be the final year of your education. So how do you do that? All you have to do is repeat your education and then list it as part of your study abroad program. Here is an example of that:

Stanford University
2012-2015
Computer Science, BSA (3.4GPA)

Stanford University, Naples, Italy
2015-2016

That’s it.

If you attended different institutions while you were part of this program, that’s okay. Simply change the name of the university in the second education item on the example above.

But before you finish reading this and decide that’s what you want to do. You should continue reading and find out how to bring up your study abroad experience in both your cover letter as well as your resume summary.

Does Study Abroad Programs Look Good on a Resume?

This is a great question. And one that you should absolutely ask before you spend the time reading this entire guide. Having a study abroad program on your resume is great but it’s not going to secure you the position.

That’s the hard reality of it.

The reason for this is because employers don’t care as much about education as they do your prior work experience or your general accomplishments.

And while studying abroad may feel like an accomplishment. It is only an accomplishment for you and your personal life. For your employer, it might not hold as much weight.

But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t list it on your resume. In fact, putting it on your resume could great conversation starters and could encourage the interviewer to ask you question about that program.

For example, maybe you visited Italy. And your interviewer really wants to go to Italy. At that point, you can have a connection and then develop a great personal relationship as well as a professional one.

That interaction and connection you might have with the interview is not to be taken lightly. So if you ask, should you list your study abroad program on your resume? The answer is yes. But have the proper expectations about what that’s going to do for you and your job hunt.

Bring Up Your Study Abroad Program in Your Cover Letter

Before we begin, it’s important to remember that your study abroad program isn’t going to help you get the job. It just won’t. What it will do is provide additional color into your background and personal life.

And that can be valuable for the interviewer to know about. It can be what makes you unique as well as what makes you a high-caliber candidate.

But the way to ensure that you aren’t leaning too heavily into this as part of your life experience is to balance it out with your prior work achievements.

When bringing up your study abroad program, all you have to do is reference it along with your qualifications, your achievements, your accomplishments, or personal story. Don’t write more than a single sentence regarding this experience.

Here is an example of how that might look in a resume introduction paragraph:

I noticed this position requires a healthy amount of adaptability. From my experiences at work to my experiences at Stanford’s study abroad program, I have been one who can mold and shift to my environment very quickly. No small errors can shift my mode of thinking. I am resilient and strong in that regard.”

While this is not a wonderful example paragraph when starting your resume, it is a great way of showing you how much room your study abroad program should take up with regard to your cover letter statement.

Bringing Up Your Study Abroad Program in Your Resume Summary

If you really feel like your study abroad program helps position yourself as a high caliber candidate for the position, then bring it up in your resume summary.

A resume summary is a two to three sentence synopsis of your accomplishments. This is where it’s important to be distinctive about whether or not this study abroad program was an accomplishment to you or an accomplishment to your employer.

Related: Listing Magna & Summa Cum Laude On Your Resume

Let's say for example you were applying for a position as a Teacher. If you were, then listing your study abroad program might be great if you had the chance to work with underprivileged students when you were international.

That would be a great way to show that you have the passion, skills, and prior work experience for the job.

But if for example, you were on “semester at sea”, that might not really help. Because those programs are designed as a student benefit. And for you, this might not be the best to bring up.

To include it in your resume summary, here is all you have to do:

Graduated with a 3.8GPA Magna Cum Laude. Previous work experience includes helping tutor 38 students through Math, Science, and other subject matter. Was part of a study abroad program by Stanford where I was able to work with more than 300 underprivileged youth.

Length of Your Resume, Cover Letter, and Resume Summary

As you can tell from the above examples, we never referenced your study abroad experience in full. This is because we don’t want it to take up too much of your cover letter word count or your resume word count.

More important sections to lean into would be your prior work achievements, your prior merits, your work experience, and your contact information.

Those sections are far more important. And writing a whole paragraph about your study abroad experience might distract too heavily from what the employer wants to see and what they value in terms of evaluating you as a potential employee.

Resume Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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