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Are you curious about studying abroad, hosting an international student or volunteering in another country? International student organizations make these experiences possible by assisting learners and facilitating strong educational experiences.
Members can receive placements or host families from these organizations and participate in once-in-a-lifetime learning programs. This guide offers information on international student organizations, including reasons to join, membership perks and a list of 10 helpful organizations for interested students.
The Importance of International Student Organizations
International student organizations allow members to participate in work and education experiences abroad. Individuals can step out of their comfort zones to network, collaborate and learn with like-minded students worldwide. Organizations concentrate on different types of learning experiences, such as leadership, public policy and other professional sectors.
These organizations offer support, advocacy and assistance to students. Some assist participants in obtaining visas and other travel accommodations. Students traveling worldwide can receive direction from international student organizations to ensure that their experiences are worthwhile and fulfilling.
Why Join an Organization as a Student?
Individuals can join international student organizations to learn more about study abroad opportunities, explore worldwide education experiences and expand their professional networks. Members often receive travel discounts, housing assistance and guidance on processes like obtaining visas.
International Student Organizations
Council on International Educational Exchange
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) offers exchange programs through gap year travel experiences, work-study programs, internships and study abroad opportunities at the college and high school levels. Learners can explore professional development opportunities through CIEE’s worldwide alumni network and annual conference.
Along with study-abroad opportunities for current enrollees, CIEE features work-exchange programs for teachers to develop international experience and increase familiarity with other languages.
Membership applies to colleges and universities. To qualify, these institutions must hold accreditation or government authorization, sign the Academic Consortium Membership Agreement and complete an application. Member institutions pay $450 annually.
This not-for-profit, student-run organization allows members—known as AIESECers—to establish and expand their ability to lead. With over 35,000 current members, more than 1 million individuals have participated in AIESEC’s management and leadership programs. AIESECers can collaborate with other members to develop social and professional skills while expanding their professional networks.
Most AIESEC programs last at least six weeks, though some are longer. Experiences take place in more than 120 countries to help participants get out of their comfort zones, reach sustainable goals and volunteer with collaborators in unfamiliar cultures.
Individuals ages 18 to 30 can apply for membership by creating an account and providing personal statements. Applicants then participate in a Skype interview with an AIESEC program manager. After acceptance, each member pays the $550 program fee. Members pay additional fees for visa applications, living expenses and round-trip airfare.
International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences
The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS), the largest student organization for agriculture and related sciences worldwide, focuses on students fostering professional leadership development in the agriculture sector. IAAS facilitates collaboration among global learners in agriculture to improve local communities, sustainably produce food and increase access to higher education.
With about 10,000 members across more than 50 countries, IAAS accepts students looking to prepare for their futures as leaders in agriculture. Members can meet like-minded individuals to expand their professional networks and knowledge of the field.
For membership, each candidate fills out an application form and completes a virtual interview with a prepared PowerPoint presentation.
Center for Global Education
The Center for Global Education advances worldwide learning efforts to develop better intercultural perspectives through study abroad opportunities and collaboration with other student organizations.
Unlike other similar organizations, the Center for Global Education’s website features a section for families and parents of individuals studying abroad.
This organization does not offer formal membership. However, it provides resources for American students and educators looking to study abroad, along with current and prospective international learners currently in US schools.
Students who have completed or are currently enrolled in US government-sponsored exchange programs can use ExchangeAlumni’s forum to connect with alumni and expand their networks with like-minded learners. Members receive access to a library of online newspapers and magazines, research journals, resources for professional development and a database of available alumni associations.
Along with sharing their international education accomplishments, members use the ExchangeAlumni site to search for grants and other sources of funding. Individuals can network with other participants to arrange local professional meetups or virtual meetings.
ExchangeAlumni membership is free, but only program alumni and current enrollees qualify. After registering for a US government-funded exchange program, participants receive invitations to join via email.
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs
The website for this US government agency features sections for domestic and international students looking to participate in exchange programs, along with their families. Users can explore resources such as an alphabetical list of exchange programs, required documentation, information on traveling abroad and ways to remain in contact while away.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs guides learners before and after they complete exchange programs abroad. The bureau’s website features stories from past and current exchange students, providing insights into how participants adjust to new cultures, make lifelong connections and develop deeper self-understanding.
This government agency does not offer membership, but users can access its online resources to make the most of their exchange experiences.
National Association for Foreign Student Affairs
The National Association for Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA) believes that international learning is key to creating worldwide peace and understanding. The association advances diverse education by expanding institutions’ globalization efforts, increasing access to higher education and making connections through social justice.
Each year, the association honors a member for their work in underrepresented populations with its Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). NAFSA’s DEI program, RISE, connects candidates from underrepresented communities with learning experiences and resources.
Membership costs vary depending on residency, student status and other factors. New members located anywhere in the world pay $199 for a one-year membership. Retirees and current students receive a discount and pay $99 annually. International members pay $459.
Comparative and International Education Society
The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) works beyond colleges and universities to explore educational patterns, resources and policies with governmental agencies, nonprofits and research institutes. The association promotes awareness across cultures to understand inequalities in education regarding economics, ethnicity, gender and language.
Members from over 110 countries can receive mentorship from senior educators and professionals in the comparative and international education society. By researching and studying education trends among different locations and cultures, international learners can receive a well-rounded, diverse sense of areas for improvement at home and abroad.
CIES features four member levels. Full-time enrollees and retirees pay $40 annually. Other individuals considering comparative and international education work pay $80 a year. CIES offers a free tier for individuals making paper or panel proposals for the association’s annual conference.