IEP offers customized volunteer programs to students, recent graduates, and individuals from all academic backgrounds and levels of experience. Volunteer placements are based on the country location, length of stay, and desired project type.

IEP volunteer projects focus on community development and service. Our goal is to provide placements where participants can contribute to a community while learning from the local people and environment.

All volunteer programs include the customized placement, housing, travel insurance, airport pickup, on-site orientation and support services. Additional amenities such as language training may be included.

IEP does not issue credit for volunteer placements. Students who wish to receive credit should speak with their academic advisor and/or study abroad office on their home campus to learn about how they can obtain credit for their volunteer placement. All IEP volunteer projects and placements are unpaid.


Why Volunteer Abroad?

Learning Experience

The goal of a volunteer project is to immerse yourself into a community and learn from them. Ideally, a volunteer project is a mutual exchange in which you contribute your time, talents and skills to a project or people group in order to benefit them. Often, returnee volunteers describe their volunteer program as a humbling learning experience.

Practical Experience

Volunteering abroad is an incredible way to gain real world experience in a particular academic field or future profession. For example, social work majors can work in an orphanage, nutrition majors can volunteer at a nutrition center, and biology majors can work at a zoo, wildlife preserve, farm or national park. Education majors could teach English or arts & crafts, or any number of other skills. Think of all of the hands-on experience you could gain from a volunteer program!

Unforgettable Experience

Volunteer programs give individuals the out-of-classroom exposure to cultures, language, environments, people groups, ideas, and traditions that they may not otherwise have an opportunity to experience in their hometown. Traveling overseas often gives participants a new perspective on life and provides lasting memories and stories to share with others upon returning to their hometown.

Contact IEP to learn more about our programs.

Past Placements

IEP does not, in any way, guarantee that past placements with specific organizations will be available for future students. These past placements are listed only to demonstrate the quality of IEP volunteer placements.

Costa Rica

Volunteer Program: special education, ecotourism, youth education

Alternative Spring Break Program : construction, youth outreach, art education


Volunteer Program : orphanage, health clinic, youth center

Alternative Spring Break Program : construction, youth outreach, education


Volunteer Program : orphanage assistance, community center assistance, youth education

Intern or Volunteer? What to Expect.

The term "internship" generally refers to a professional placement where you work for a company or business. You may be required to conduct a phone interview with the company prior to being given a placement offer. You may have to report to a supervisor. An evaluation of your performance will be submitted to IEP upon completion of your internship. Internships overseas tend to be similar to a structured internship in the United States. Interns generally live with other interns or students in shared apartments or houses.

A "volunteer program" generally places students and volunteers in a community service or humanitarian aid project. Usually an organization will offer a placement without conducting a phone interview to a participant based on the information that the individual submits in the application. Flexibility and patience are needed to participate on a volunteer program in a developing country because the comforts and amenities that most Americans are used to are generally not readily available. Volunteers live with local families in the community.

However, for some career fields and majors, a "volunteer" project may be an internship or vice versa. For example, business majors can intern with a company in Ecuador, go on medical missions in the Philippines, or veterinary science majors can work on a wildlife preserve in Costa Rica or at a zoo in New Zealand. Conversely, Social Science majors can work for an NGO in London or Barcelona or ecotourism majors can work at a "green" hostel in New Zealand!

The possibilities are endless! Browse the internship and volunteer country locations to see what types of placements are available. And remember, if you do not find what you are looking for, contact an IEP representative to discuss your options!


Am I guaranteed a placement?

Once a completed application and deposit is submitted to IEP, we guarantee that all applicants will be placed in a volunteer project according to their specified interest, or you receive a full refund and deposit back. While IEP and affiliates work diligently to place students in a volunteer program that meets most if not all of their specifications, IEP only guarantees placement within the general field. IEP will inform a student early on in the process if the students first country choice does not offer their desired placement.

What is included?

Your customized placement, housing, airport pickup, travel insurance, pre-departure materials, and support services. Other amenities may be included such as language training, Internet access, or excursions.

What other costs are involved?

You need to purchase your roundtrip plane ticket, visa & passport (when applicable), meals in country, transportation in country, and personal items. Please see the Dates & Costs chart to view estimated additional cost.

Can I get volunteer placement even if it has never been done before?

Absolutely! Every year, IEP finds new placements with international organizations. If your career field or specified project interest is less traditional, make sure you submit your application as soon as possible and speak with an IEP representative about country options.

After I apply, when do I find out where I am placed?

Securing a volunteer placement takes time, in some cases, up to 6-8 weeks. IEP frequently communicates with the overseas coordinators about individual student placements. Once an organization has agreed to host a student, they will make a placement offer. The student then accepts or denies the placement offer and the terms and conditions are arranged and agreed upon.

What if the placement offer isn't what I had in mind?

On rare occasion, a student may not wish to accept the initial placement offer. IEP will work with the overseas coordinators to arrange a second placement offer that matches more closely with the student's expectations. If the student rejects the second placement, IEP and the student will discuss a third placement offer or student withdrawal. If a placement is found within the student's chosen career field and they reject all placement offers, they will be refunded any program payments but not the initial deposit.

Why doesn't IEP issue credit for a volunteer program?

Each college and university evaluates internship/volunteer credits and standards for receiving credit differently. IEP facilitates the volunteer placement process, but not the issuance of credit. In the same way that a corporation or business in the United States does not issue credit for a volunteer project, the companies that partner with IEP and IEP affiliates do not issue credit but rather provide a way to enter into a local community.

How can I earn credit or community service hours for my volunteer placement?

Students should meet with their academic advisor to discuss what their college or university requires in order to issue credit. Most institutions require that students work a certain number of hours per week and receive an evaluation from a supervisor at the end of the volunteer placement. Your home study abroad office or career center may be another great resource when learning about international volunteer or community service hour requirements. IEP works with students who wish to receive credit to ensure that the proper documentation is provided to the student in order for them to receive credit.

Why do I have to pay to volunteer abroad?

Volunteers are essentially paying for an international experience in a local community that could not otherwise be obtained without the connections and partnerships that IEP and IEP affiliates have built over the years with local organizations in the host country. You have a team of people in the United States and overseas actively securing and facilitating your placement! Many international organizations welcome American students in order to give them an opportunity to contribute to their organization and gain real-life experience. However, these organizations often struggle financially and cannot afford to pay American students. Additionally, in many countries the visa process is more difficult for both the organization and the student if the student will be receiving a salary.

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