Learning Abroad in Individualized Degree Programs
The benefits of study abroad in individualized degree programs are as varied as the students and the degree programs they design. Through study abroad, you’ll develop your language competency, build confidence and problem-solving skills, discover new worlds and ways to adapt (even in your own world), and make life and career connections. But mostly, it’s an ancient, proven way of learning, “indispensable to any close observer of human beings” (Wilhelm von Humboldt).This covers four individualized degree programs:
- BIS: Bachelor of Individualized Studies (College of Liberal Arts)
- IDIM: Individually Designed Interdepartmental Major (College of Liberal Arts)
- ICP: Inter-College Program (College of Continuing Education)
- MdS: Multidisciplinary Studies (College of Continuing Education)
This is the basic process you'll complete in order to study abroad. The order in which you do things is somewhat flexible.
Review the following suggestions from the BIS, IDIM, ICP, and MdS programs before beginning your study abroad research.
Many BIS, IDIM, ICP, and MdS students use credits from study abroad as part of their individualized degree program. All four programs are sufficiently flexible to incorporate study abroad. The key is advance planning. The earlier you select your study abroad program—or programs (some students do more than one)—the easier you will find it to integrate the courses into your individualized degree plan.
Identify your learning goals
Before choosing a program, think carefully about why you want to study abroad. Ask yourself questions such as the following:
- What language skills do I possess? What language skills do I want to develop? Do I hope to use my study abroad, in part or in full, to satisfy a language requirement for graduation? Am I currently capable of taking coursework taught in a language other than English? Does my answer to that question change depending on whether my classmates would be other Americans or students from the host country?
- How do I want my study abroad to fit into my degree program? What programs/courses would not only fit into one or more of my concentrations but also enrich them? What courses can I take that are not available at the University of Minnesota and that would strengthen my focus?
- Can I use my study abroad to meet one or more Liberal Education requirements?
- What do I know about my learning style? Do I feel most comfortable in a classroom, or do I learn best by doing? Should I be seeking out a program built around experiential leaning?
- Do I need professional experience? Do I want to learn first-hand about pressing social issues? If so, what programs offer internship or service-learning options?
- What do I feel ready for? How independent am I? How long do I want to study abroad?
Consult with your advisers on timing and credit issues
The BIS, IDIM, ICP, and MdS degree programs can be flexible about incorporating credits from abroad. Again, careful planning and consultation is the key. Discuss the following with your adviser:
- Is there a best time to study abroad? In general, any time during your undergraduate career can be appropriate for study abroad within an individualized degree program.
- Short introductory experiences tend to be especially appropriate at the freshman or sophomore level, whereas longer, more culturally immersion experiences are often advisable for juniors and seniors.
- In assessing the best time to go abroad, consult with your concentration adviser about the timing of any specific courses you need to take on campus.
- How much of my degree program can I complete abroad? That is up to your individual concentration advisers; advance consultation is essential. Be sure you and your adviser know whether a particular program yields resident credit or transfer credit; in some cases that difference may be crucial (especially if you are a transfer student), whereas in others it may be almost inconsequential.
- Can I do any course abroad? Individual concentration advisers may feel that particular on-campus courses are crucial to the integrity of your degree program. Again, the earlier your advising conversations take place, the smoother will be your planning process.
- Use the Academic Planning for Study Abroad (APSA) form to structure your academic planning and document your consultation both with your degree program adviser and with each of your concentration advisers.
Pay particular attention to program type
- Format and teaching approach are every bit as important as location and length. Consider your learning style, your educational and personal goals, and department advice.
- Field Study programs: Learn through doing (internships, service-learning, field research, etc,). These fit nicely with the powerful tradition of fieldwork in both cultural anthropology and archaeology.
- University Study programs: Become a temporary foreign student at a host university. Seek places offering anthropological methodologies, theoretical perspectives, or courses different from ours.
- Study Abroad Centers: Take classroom courses tailor-made for non-native students. Many such centers also offer opportunities to engage in field study and/or to take courses as a local university.
Integrate service-learning or an internship into your degree program
- With the advance approval of your concentration adviser, it is quite possible to include experiential coursework in a BIS, IDIM, ICP, or MdS degree program.
- Like more conventional classroom-based courses, internships or other experiential courses should fit with the thrust of the concentration and should complement other courses within it.
- Concentration advisers may vary in their enthusiasm for experiential coursework; early consultation is strongly advised.
- For the BIS and IDIM programs, students must either complete a fourth-semester college language course or pass the Language Proficiency Exam. The BA option within ICP requires either two years of language or one year of language plus 8 credits of related culture courses. The BA option within MdS requires 12 credits of course work dedicated to languages or cultures other than the student’s native language or culture.
- Study abroad offers extraordinary opportunities to satisfy these requirements. Learning is most efficient when you are surrounded by the language you are studying; watch especially for programs that include homestays. Options are available for accelerated language learning.
- Plan your language study carefully or you may find yourself out of sequence upon return to the University of Minnesota.
Build second language skills
If you hope to jumpstart a new language or to gain advanced fluency, select a program that suits your goals.
- If you are at the beginning or intermediate level, consider a program where you can study and be surrounded by a language.
- If you already have reasonably advanced language skills, consider a program taught in another language.
For suggestions, see the LAC’s Language Study Options.
Fulfill Liberal Education requirements
- Early planning can help you apply study abroad credits to many of the University’s Liberal Education requirements.
- Decide early which requirements you want to satisfy through courses taken abroad and plan your coursework accordingly.
- Consult the Learning Abroad Center’s database of study abroad courses that have been approved for Liberal Education or submit courses for review.
As you plan your learning abroad experience, be sure to refer to the Major Advising Page associated with your interdisciplinary major. Work with your adviser to explore how you might integrate an experience abroad into your undergraduate career.
Additional Options to ConsiderGlobal Seminars
- 3-week, 3-credit programs at the 3000-level led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff over Winter Break or May Session.
- Fulfill Liberal Education requirements, or earn major/minor credit.
- Explore an exciting location and topic! Check out this year's offerings!
- Freshman Seminars Abroad combine on-campus instruction during spring semester with a study abroad component during spring break.
- Seminars are 3 credits at the 19xx level and most fulfill a liberal education requirement.
- Seminars are designed specifically for first year students as an introduction to study abroad.
- An alternative or compliment to study abroad.
- Explore new interests or gain experience related to your field of study
- Consider paid and unpaid opportunities offered throughout the year at locations around the globe
Visit the Learning Abroad Center's Student Experiences web page for details on other students' experiences studying abroad.