While directed study abroad is similar to directed study on campus or in the local community, directed study abroad requires more advance planning. The information on these directed study web pages outlines general academic and financial aid considerations, and what process you need to follow during your preparation. Directed study runs through academic departments on campus and support would come from those departments, not the Learning Abroad Center.
When doing Directed Study, students register and pay for directed study credit through the regular University of Minnesota procedures. If you wish to request aid or loans beyond the amount you expect to receive for enrolling in the directed study credits, follow the procedures listed on the Registration and Financial Aid webpage.
Identify a faculty adviser.When considering a directed study project, you will need to identify a faculty member who will agree to oversee your project and assign credit. If you are engaging in a research project, the University of Minnesota Office of Undergraduate Research offers helpful guidance and considerations.
Limit your topic to something manageable. Identify specific questions you wish to answer through your directed study project. Be sure these questions are answerable within your constraints on time and resources. Note that time constraints are more severe abroad. You will also be limited by the unfamiliar cultural and institutional settings and the logistical demands of setting up research in a new country.
Do as much background reading as possible before departure. Foreign libraries and online systems may be more difficult to use than when in the US, even for those who are familiar with the language and system.
Focus your directed study/research questions and define your methodology before you leave. What exactly do you propose to do once you are on site? With whom will you want to speak? What research tools will you use? If you are conducting a research project, a rough draft of the introductory section of your research paper may help you clarify your project with your faculty adviser before you leave. Discuss all of these matters in detail with your adviser.
Determine how to conduct your directed study ethically. Discuss this with your faculty adviser, and plan well in advance. For example, you will need to research what is ethically acceptable both where you plan to do your project and in the US. If you are conducting a research project, you may need to obtain IRB approval for your research, or you may need to develop informed consent forms for your research and translate them into another language.
Discuss your proposed project with others, including other faculty, who know the location where you will be doing your research. With these discussions, you may identify problems that you might encounter or holes in your research strategy. In addition, try to develop a list of local contacts who might be able to help you once you are abroad.
Discuss contingency plans with your faculty adviser. Students are usually more on their own in doing a directed study project abroad. In case part of your project does not work once you are abroad, discuss possible alternatives with your faculty adviser in advance.
The number of credits and nature of assignments are stipulated by the faculty adviser supervising your project. Your faculty adviser is also responsible for submitting the directed study grade through the regular University of Minnesota grade reporting procedures after being satisfied that you have met the agreed-upon standards for the credits.