Canada’s Education Abroad Lexicon

Canada’s Education Abroad Lexicon provides terms and definitions used by educational institutions and governments in developing programs and in tracking participation in education abroad. Their adoption and continued use by the education sector in Canada will promote consistency in statistical reporting and understanding of the types of education abroad activities Canadian students are undertaking.

Community Engaged Learning Abroad

A credit or non-credit activity abroad which involves community partners or organizations working directly with students on projects of interest to the community.


A graduate program involving joint thesis supervision of a student by professors at a home and host institution. Provided the student meets the degree requirements of both institutions, two individual degrees may be awarded to the student, one from each institution. Arrangements for cotutelle are made on an individual basis for each student.

Dual Degree

An institutional agreement is used to develop common degree requirements which meet the academic requirements at both the host and home institutions such that a student receives two degrees, one from each institution.

Education Abroad

Education that occurs outside the country of the participant’s home institution. Besides study abroad, examples include such international experiences as work, volunteering, non-credit internships, and directed travel, as long as these programs are driven to a significant degree by learning goals.(Note: Adapted from the Glossary of Education Abroad, Forum on Education Abroad 2011. )

Experiential Education

Educational activities that involve learning outside the classroom, which may or may not involve travel abroad.

Faculty-Led Program Abroad

An education abroad activity involving a group of students under the supervision of a home-institution faculty member.

Field School

A structured group learning experience which takes place outside the classroom in a location which acts as a ‘home base’ for studies. Learning centres around topics which are enhanced by the resources (cultural, environmental or academic) available at or near the field school location.

Field Study or Trip

Similar to a Field School but usually of shorter duration and not confined to a single base destination.

Home Stay Program

A form of housing aimed at increasing participants’ cultural and linguistic competencies by living in the home of a local resident, often a family.

Independent Study Abroad

An education abroad activity initiated and arranged by the student with the home institution sometimes being asked to grant credit for the experience through an independent learning course or transfer credit.

Intercultural Learning

Learning at home or abroad which involves exposure to, and increased understanding of cultures other than the student’s own.

International Education

1) Learning activities (curricular, co-curricular or extra curricular) which focus on other countries or cultures; 2) Any educational activity (full-degree or short-term) which occurs outside the student’s home country.


A philosophy which promotes the value of incorporating an international perspective into all aspects of teaching and learning.


The active pursuit of activities which support the incorporation of an international perspective into all aspects of teaching and learning.

Internationalization at Home

Activities which promote an international perspective in curricular, co-curricular or extra curricular activities which do not necessitate student travel outside the home institution country.

Internationalizing the Curriculum

Teaching and learning activities which promote an international perspective within courses and academic programs.

Internship Abroad

A work placement abroad, usually working in a pseudo-professional capacity, where the primary motivation is educational. Internships may be credit or non-credit and paid or unpaid.

Joint Degree

A program of study established by partner institutions in different countries whereby meeting the academic requirements results in the student obtaining one degree awarded on behalf of both institutions. May also be referred to as a double-branded degree.

Letter of Permission

A mechanism which allows students to temporarily transfer to another institution and have course credit transferred back to their home institution. Tuition and fees are paid to the host institution.

Overseas Branch Campus

A campus of an educational institution established in a country outside of the institution’s main location. Educational offerings at the branch campus are usually targeted at local students in that location.

Research Abroad

A for-credit research project carried out by a student (usually at the graduate level) in a country outside of the home institution’s location.

Semester Abroad

A 3-4 month (one semester) group program abroad with a prescribed course of study offered by an institution such that the student obtains home-institution credit. 2) Any program of study abroad which has the duration of one semester.

Service Learning

A credit or non-credit experiential learning experience abroad whereby student activities are aimed at ameliorating a community problem or issue.

Student Exchange Program

A program of study whereby partner institutions establish a reciprocal agreement which enables students to pay tuition at their home institution and to register and study at the host partner institution with credit transferred back to the home institution. The typical duration of an exchange is one or two semesters.

Study Abroad

An umbrella term referring to any for-credit learning activity abroad including full-degree, exchange and Letter of Permission programs as well as experiential or service learning abroad for credit.

Study Tour Abroad

A short-term, for-credit program abroad which takes students to various locations often with the purpose of comparing and contrasting various aspects of a subject or discipline.

Volunteer Abroad

An unpaid student placement abroad which may, or may not, be organized by a third-party organization. Volunteering abroad differs from service learning or experiential learning abroad in that the main focus is not necessarily on student learning.

CBIE wishes to thank our Education Abroad Advisory Committee for their work in developing and validating this Lexicon.

Education Abroad Advisory Committee included:

  • Lynne Mitchel, University of Guelph (Chair)
  • Beth Alaska, York University
  • Rebecca Fitzgerald, Humber College
  • Lucille Landry, University of Moncton
  • Andrew Lang, Concordia University
  • Meghan McKnnie, MacEwan University
  • Kathy Scheepers, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Marie-Claude Tremblay, Université Laval