Learning Abroad Center

Program Types & Definitions

This page defines the terms used to categorize learning abroad programs, many of which you will find in the program search.

Sponsor Definitions

Learning Abroad Center Programs

These study abroad experiences are developed, administered and evaluated by the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Learning Abroad Center. Non-University of Minnesota students may also apply to most of these programs.


These programs are administered by other institutions/organizations and approved by the University of Minnesota. Students will receive support and services from the Learning Abroad Center, and credits will be posted as resident credit. Students will also work directly with the affiliate. On-site support and staff are from the affiliate organization, not the University of Minnesota.

Non-Promoted Affiliates

Some affiliate programs are not included on our website, but are available and approved for UofM students.

Other UofM Campuses

These study abroad experiences are developed, administered, and evaluated by one of the University of Minnesota coordinate campuses- Duluth, Morris, Crookston, and Rochester. UMTC students will work directly with the appropriate office on the campus that sponsors the program and the Learning Abroad Center for different aspects of registration, billing, financial aid, and scholarships.

Collegiate & Departmental

Programs developed and administered by faculty and staff from colleges and departments at the University of Minnesota. These include short-term instructor-led programs, exchanges, and some affiliate programs.

Nonaffiliated Program

Before considering a nonaffiliated program, make sure you’ve done an extensive search for LAC programs and non-promoted affiliate programs.

Any program abroad that lacks a University of Minnesota affiliation. Faculty have not reviewed the quality of these programs and credit is not guaranteed. Students have the responsibility to ensure safety, quality, and credit on these programs. Students must obtain approval from their college in order to participate in a nonaffiliated study abroad program and confirm with the Office of Admissions that the University of Minnesota will post transfer credit for courses taken on the program.

Program Model Definitions

Study Center Programs

Most time is spent living and taking classes with other students on the program. The buildings in which students take coursework may or may not be on a university campus and often are located in city centers. Buildings generally have computer rooms, classrooms, staff offices, and a small library. Coursework often will take advantage of the location and be experience based. For instance, a history class will meet at important historical sites. Many such programs combine customized courses with opportunities for field study, internships, and/or the option of taking some classes in a host-country university. Study center programs are good for students who want extra support or may not know the language of the host country well enough to enroll at a local university.

Host University Study Programs

Most time is spent living and taking classes at a local university with students and faculty from the host country much like an international student coming to the University of Minnesota. Students are expected to perform at the same level as local students, often in a more independent educational system. Some programs consist entirely of such study, whereas others combine it with special courses aimed at non-native students. Institutions abroad will offer different courses, theoretical perspectives, and/or methodologies from the University of Minnesota.


Programs led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff, including Global Seminars, Freshman Seminars Abroad, and College/Departmental programs.

Field Study

Most time is spent living and working outdoors. Coursework often has a specific theme or topic and often involves activities such as data collection. Typically, students have very little traditional classroom time, with the emphasis on experiential assignments.

Non-credit Programs

These include work, internship, volunteer, and teach English programs that do not grant academic credit and are not eligible for financial aid.

Program Types

Global Seminars

A type of U-Led program where a UofM faculty member or staff leads a group of students abroad for a winter break or May session. Global Seminars consist of one 3-credit class and are approximately 3 weeks in length. Locations and coursework vary each year.

Freshman Seminars Abroad

Freshman Seminars Abroad combine on-campus instruction during fall or spring semester with a 1-2 week study abroad component during winter or spring break. Seminars are 3 credits at the 19xx level and fulfill a liberal education requirement.


A type of study abroad program where you trade places, attending the other's institution. Exchange programs often demand a high level of independence, and you must be able to deal with a high level of ambiguity at times. Deadlines are earlier than other program types, often a year before departure.

  • Bilateral

    Exchanges where the Learning Abroad Center has specific agreements with an overseas institution.

  • Departmental

    Exchange opportunities organized and managed by specific University of Minnesota departments or colleges.

Language Intensive

Programs that offer the equivalent of one or more semesters of language during a short-term program or either a full semester of beginning or intermediate language (1st-4th semester) during a short-term program, or two or more semesters of beginning or intermediate language during a semester or summer program.


Programs with coursework on campus before and/or after the period you spend abroad.

Directed Study Abroad

An academic experience abroad arranged individually between one student and one faculty member or department. There is no program per se, rather a contract between the student and the faculty member is drawn up and details how much credit will be given upon successful completion of the project and/or research.

Program Features

Internship Abroad (unpaid, credit-bearing)

Programs combine coursework with internship placements in order to grant academic credit. Internships are unpaid. Internship placements vary with many fields being represented.

Community Engagement

Community engagement provides direct experience applying content, ideas, and issues discussed in a class through volunteering at a community organization. Students support the organization and its goals, and the organization gives students the opportunity to serve the community and develop professional skills and contacts. Structured reflection on the experience is an essential component of a community engagement program.

Research Abroad

Programs include the option of coursework with research opportunities, as part of a comprehensive study abroad program in order to deepen student learning and develop solid investigative skills. A number of these programs qualify for the International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) available to University of Minnesota Twin Cities students.

Housing Options


Living with a family in another country is one of the highlights of an international experience. It is an opportunity to experience the daily life of the host country from a firsthand perspective and to develop lifelong ties to the host family. It is also a good way to learn another language. Generally, one or more meals each day are taken with the family.


Living in an apartment allows more independence for students. The key to a successful stay in an apartment is to be mindful and respectful of the landlord’s guidelines and expectations. Students cook for themselves using the kitchen facilities provided.


Dormitories tend to be on or near campus and have facilities nearby such as cafeterias and laundry. Dormitory living also allows students to meet host country and other international students. Some dormitories have shared kitchen facilities and others offer a meal plan or require students to purchase food locally.