9 Exchange Programs for High School Students

Come to think of it, most people want to explore other countries and this desire starts as early as high school days, students want to go out and eat that weird meal from other countries. They want to hear these people speak in their language, they want to interact and learn some parts of their culture.

And that’s what exchange programs for high school students can do for you, you will have the opportunity to start exploring different countries even as a high school student. Believe me, the experience is not something we can cover through writing or video, that’s why it’s called “experience,” you get to be part of it. No two study abroad experience is ever the same, each student has a totally different story to illustrate whenever they travel abroad, it could be an exciting story or a terrifying one.

But one thing I promise you are, you will see a different way of life, the experience will take you out of your comfort zone at an early age and you’ll find yourself in an unfamiliar environment. These exchange programs enable high school students to volunteer for local activities in the country they chose, and they also get to learn other styles of teaching besides their usual ones.

But before we list these exchange programs for high school students, let’s see how you can apply and get into these programs.

How do I get into a student exchange program?

There are different criteria to enroll in these exchange programs, but we will list some of the general requirements you’ll see in most of them.

  • You need to be a high school student
  • Students need to be below 18½ years while applying.
  • The applicant needs to have a minimum of 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale (especially for students applying for exchange programs with scholarships)
  • Applicants need to have an interest in learning the new language of the country he/she intends to travel to.

How much does a student exchange program cost?

The cost depends on the kind of exchange program you’re going for. There are exchange programs that are free, that is, they are fully funded scholarships.

All the high school exchange programs provided by the U.S. Department of State are all fully funded scholarships, and we listed them below. There are other exchange programs the cost ranges from $500 to $6,000 depending on the provider and duration.

exchange programs for high school students

Exchange Programs for High School Students

1. Congress–Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX)

This is one of the exchange programs for high school students provided by The U.S. Department of State to study in Germany for an academic year. The eligible students are awarded fully funded scholarships based on their merit to study in this country, it gives them the privilege to learn their language, interact with the Germans, and even learn their culture.

The awardees will be living with the host family and attending a German high school. These students will have a lot of experience this year, outside the fact they will learn German culture first-hand, they will also be able to meet the U.S. and German representatives, and meet new people.

The scholarships are awarded to 350 high school students, high school graduates in vocational fields, and young professionals in the United States.

2. Future Leaders Exchange Abroad (FLEX Abroad)

This is another high school exchange program provided by The U.S. Department of State that awards merit-based scholarships for high school students to study in the United States. There are lots of countries under FLEX that are eligible for this scholarship, they include; Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Over 35,000 students from these countries compete annually for this scholarship to study in a high school in the US for a year, and they will live with the volunteer host family. These high school students have a lot to gain studying in the United States, whether it’s learning their culture, acting as an ambassador for their home country, gathering enough skill and experience to take back to their home country, and joining their group of over 30,000 Alumni.

3. Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad

This is one of the other exchange programs for high school students provided by The U.S. Department of State to American high school students to study and live in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, or Southeast Europe. This fully funded scholarship allows students to learn about new cultures from these countries, they no longer need to only hear and read about their history, but they will see it firsthand.

Just like all exchange programs provided by The U.S. Department of State, this one also requires the awardees to live in the host family, and attend a local high school in the country of their choice for a year. The YES program scholarship is awarded to 65 high school students that are between 15 to 18.5 years old.

4. National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)

This is also another high school exchange program provided by The U.S. Department of State for high school students to study with fully funded, merit-based scholarships in a different country. The countries these students can choose from include, China, Egypt, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Latvia, Moldova, Morocco, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, etc.

When you see the countries, you’ll realize that all of them don’t have English as their first language, which aligns with NSLI-Y’s vision for Americans to learn a new language and culture. There will be special care of language instruction for participants, and they will also be living with a host family.

5. Youth Ambassadors

This is another exchange program for high school students and adult mentors funded by the U.S. Department of State to participate in a 3-week youth leadership program in Central and South America during the summer months.

The YA program is in two categories, the first category is for 120 U.S. citizens (high school students between 15-17 years old and adult educators) that want to participate in YA internationally. Whereas the second category is for International high school students that want to participate in the 3-week Youth Ambassadors Program in the United States.

Note that, not all countries are eligible

6. Arcos Journey Abroad

For teenagers that want to learn more about Spanish culture, that want to go beyond the regular “Duele el corazón,” to a more advanced language. And you’ll be learning it from those that have this language, under the Andalusian Sky in the Magical City of Granada.

Granada has a lot of adventure to offer to foreigners, you should know that it was where Christopher Columbus came to get permission from the Catholic Kings, Isabel and Ferdinand, to sail to the New World. So this high school exchange program is for students between 14 to 18 years old, and they will be staying with the host family.

Unlike other exchange programs for high school students we have listed earlier that were fully funded scholarships, this one has a fee. The fees and duration range from $3,995 – $5,195 and 14 days to 28 days respectively.

7. Youth for Understanding Intercultural Exchange Programs

YFU believes in discovering yourself, and they do that by helping students, embark on trips outside their country to learn about the culture, people, places, and language of the new country. YFU also offers both full and partial scholarships to 150 high school students for this exchange program.

8. High School Summer Language Camp in Japan

Just like the name, this is one of the exchange programs for high school students where you’ll be learning a new language, but this time it’s Japanese. The fun of it is that you will be along with other students excited like you, passionate like you to learn the Japanese culture, and even their food.

This summer camping is provided by Greenheart travel, and they want applicants to know how to read hiragana, but if you can’t you’ll be asked to prepare prior to your start date, even if you are a complete beginner. The cost for the class varies based on the duration.

9. Education First Exchange Program

Education First offers lots of exchange programs for students from 10 to 25 years old, and you will have the opportunity to study and learn a new language from different countries. They also categorized their exchange programs to 

  • English Student Exchange Programs
  • Spanish Student Exchange Programs
  • French Student Exchange Programs.
  • German Student Exchange Programs, etc.


You should know that choosing these exchange programs for high school students should be based on your interest, whether you want to explore a completely different culture from your usual home culture, if you want to explore some parts of the developing countries, and see their way of interaction yourself. But, no matter what, the experience will be worth it.

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