group of U of M Students in front of a windmill in Spain

Learning Abroad in Biology, Society & Environment

    Firsthand learning through experiences in diverse parts of the world is an invaluable ingredient in the formation of an educated person in our globalizing world. Study abroad is designed to provide you with these experiences. Whether your area of emphasis is on the health sciences, environmental studies, policy, or some combination, studying abroad can enrich your educational experiences. You will understand your own cultural area better for having shared in and with another. Study abroad will help you understand how science and society intersect not only in the US but around the globe.

    Study Abroad Process

    This is the basic process you'll complete in order to study abroad. The order in which you do things is somewhat flexible.

    Academic Planning

    Review the following suggestions from the Biology, Society and Environment program before beginning your study abroad research.

    When should I go abroad?

    • There is no “best” time for everyone. It depends both on the individual student and on the type of education abroad experience.
    • Introductory short-term programs and language study can be great as freshmen or sophomores. This gives you time to follow up with a longer-term experience abroad before you graduate.
    • For semester or full-year programs the sophomore or junior year tend to be best on the whole.
    • Senior-year study abroad may require additional planning. When are graduate school applications due? Do you need to take exams given only at particular times of year, or only in the US? Will the grades from your study abroad arrive in time for graduation? Is there any danger that the study abroad will impede timely completion of the major paper?

    How will a study abroad program fulfill my BSE major requirements?

    • You are most likely to find courses that will count as theme electives.
    • For exact course substitution to fulfill requirements (such as your biology and other science requirements) the course needs to be equivalent.
    • Only courses accepted by the University of Minnesota at the upper division level can count toward the major.
    • Internships abroad might apply toward the elective component of the major, but the academic documentation must be persuasive. Although the department encourages internships, you may be able to use them only toward elective credit outside the major. 

    Conduct fieldwork for your senior project

    • With the consultation of an appropriate faculty member who will act as your senior project adviser, you may be able to use fieldwork as the basis for your senior project; however, the actual senior project must be completed for 2-3 credits once you return to the University.
    • You may be able to pursue independent research, research through an internship or volunteer opportunity, or research through your study program. Use the Learning Abroad Center program search to identify study abroad programs that include these kinds of opportunities.

    Fulfill liberal education requirements

    • Consult the U Credit Abroad Search for classes that have been approved for Liberal Education. If a course is not listed, it may still meet a liberal education requirement. We encourage you to submit your course(s) for evaluation.

    College/Department Scholarships for UofM Students



    The Biology, Society & Environment program has identified the following programs as examples of options of potential interest to its majors and minors. These are for illustration only, and you need not confine your search to those on the list.

    Africa and the Middle East


    University Study in Israel: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    • Program type: University Study
    • Offers courses in a wide variety of disciplines, including several environmental studies courses such as Environmental and Natural Resources Policy iin Israel and the Middle East and Climate of the Eastern Mediterranean and Israel.
    • Instruction is in English


    MSID—International Development in Kenya

    • Program type: Field Study
    • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion.
    • Many past internship placements have focused on such areas as environmental issues, sustainable agriculture, public health/nutrition, or community health.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Swahili is required. Fall or Spring semester. 


    MSID—International Development in Senegal

    • Program type: Field Study
    • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion.
    • Many past internship placements have focused on such areas as environmental issues, sustainable agriculture, public health/nutrition, or community health.
    • Instruction is in French. Fall or Spring semester. 

    South Africa

    University Study in South Africa: Cape Town

    • Experience South African culture firsthand while learning alongside South African students. Study in an urban setting at the University of Cape Town. The University of Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest university and is one of Africa’s leading teaching and research institutions. The main campus occupies a beautiful site on the slopes of Table Mountain.
    • Courses available in English in environmental science, climate change, and sustainable development.
    • Semester, academic year, and calendar year options available.



    Argentine Universities Program (available through IFSA Argentina)

    • Attend the prestigious Universidad de Buenos Aires to take regular coursework alongside Argentinian students. Additional coursework available at Universidad del Salvador, Universidad Católica Argentina, or Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    • Coursework is available in biology, ecology, and botany.
    • All courses are in Spanish; at least 2 years of college-level Spanish required. Semester, academic year, calendar year, and summer terms available.

    Costa Rica

    School for Field Studies Costa Rica
    Semester program: Sustainable Development Studies
    Summer program: Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems

    • Program type: Field Study
    • Semester program examines the effects of globalization on development issues such as agriculture, biodiversity protection, economic development, urban sprawl, and population growth.
    • Choose either or both summer sessions- the first explores the sustainability of tropical ecosystems and the second focuses on field research techniques for addressing conservation questions
    • Prerequisites for semester course include one college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies course and one college level Spanish course. No prerequisites for summer program.


    MSID—International Development in Ecuador

    • Program type: Field Study
    • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further ensure cultural immersion.
    • Many past internship placements have focused on such areas as environmental issues, sustainable agriculture, public health/nutrition, or community health.
    • Instruction is in Spanish. Fall or Spring semester. 

    Turks & Caicos

    School for Field Studies Turks & Caicos

    Semester program: Marine Management Studies

    Summer program: Marine Protected Areas: Management Techniques & Policies

    • Program type: Field study
    • Semetser program- engage in research that provides the local government, community, and tourism developers with recommendations to sustain economic, social, and ecological stability 
    • Summer program- explore the effectiveness of marine protected areas in maintaining biodiversity and critical habitats and contributing to the socioeconomic sustainability of the local community.
    • Take a hands-on approach to learning about marine ecology and coastal ecosystems

    Asia and Oceania


    School for Field Studies Australia

    Semester program: Tropical Rainforest Studies

    Summer programs: Rainforest Management Studies in New Zealand & Australia; and Techniques for Rainforest Research in Australia

    • Examine the impact of human activity on the environment; efforts to protect and conserve natural resources, as well as the psychological and philosophical dimensions of these issues
    • Interact with professionals, academics, conservationists, community members, and host families
    • Use your field study experience and research skills to complete an Independent Study Project

    University Study in Australia: James Cook University

    • Program type: University Study
    • JCU, located close to the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest, and the outback, has long been respected as a world leader in such fields as marine science and tropical environment studies.
    • Sample courses: Environmental Risk & Social Practice; Science Journalism; Society & the Environment. JCU’s emphasis on field study permits US students to explore new environments.
    • Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

    New Zealand

    University Study in New Zealand: University of Auckland

    • Program type: University Study
    • New Zealand’s largest university, located in its largest city. About one out of every three New Zealanders lives in Auckland, a subtropical city on the North Island
    • For relevant courses look in the online catalog under Geography (strong environmental focus) and under Social Science for Public Health.
    • Instruction is in English, although some Maori studies courses are taught in Maori instead. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year

    University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago

    • Program type: University Study
    • Courses available in the wide array of science and social science areas, including Environment and Society, Environmental Science, Drugs and Human Health; Infection and Immunity; Nutrition, Metabolism and Human Health; and Reproduction, Genetics and Development
    • Fall or spring semester, academic year


    MSID—International Development in Thailand

    • Program type: Field Study
    • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and internship/research further enrich cultural immersion. Based in Chiang Mai but with internship options outside the city.
    • Many past internship placements have focused on such areas as environmental issues, sustainable agriculture, public health/nutrition, or community health.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Thai language is required. Fall or Spring semester. 

    Vietnam and Cambodia

    SFS Vietnam/Cambodia—Environmental Ethics & Conservation

    • Highly experiential program exploring the natural, human, and political economy of Vietnam and upstream areas of the Mekong River Delta in Cambodia.
    • Examines issues of sustainable development, pressures on natural resource exploitation, and ecotourism in Vietnam and Cambodia.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior study of Chinese or of local minority languages is required. Fall or spring semester.
    • Pre req: One semester of college-level ecology or biology.



    Study Abroad in Denmark

    • Program type: Study Abroad Center
    • Copenhagen-based DIS, one of Europe’s largest and academically strongest study abroad programs, offers a wide variety of courses on Denmark, Scandinavia, and Europe.
    • More than 200 courses offered in a wide range of academic disciplines. Thematic concentrations include: Biomedicine, Medical Practice & Policy, Public Health, and Sustainability.
    • Instruction is in English; no prior Danish is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.


    Language & Culture in Southern France

    • Program type: University Study and Study Abroad Center (two tracks)
    • Permits a mix of special language and culture courses for international students and regular Université Paul Valéry courses in a proportion suitable to each student’s language proficiency.
    • Relevant fields available at the university include anthropology, biology, chemistry, environmental studies, geography, history, international relations, political science, psychology, sociology.
    • Instruction is in French; one year French prerequisite for center track, two for university study track. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or a summer intensive language program.


    IES Germany—Freiburg Environmental Studies & Sustainability

    • Program type: Study center
    • Explore the field of renewable energies & energy policy
    • Sample courses include Ecology and Management of Forest Landscapes in Southwest Germany & the Swiss Alps; Global Environmental Change; Methods in Ecosystem Analysis


    University of Iceland (available through Scholarship Exchange in Iceland)

    • Program type: University Study
    • Sample courses: Nature-Based Tourism; Research Project in Biology for Foreign Students; Ecological Economics; Field Course in Management of Protected Areas; Sustainable Futures.
    • Instruction in many courses (included those listed here) is in English; no prior Icelandic is required. Additional courses available to students fluent in Icelandic. Academic year only.


    University College Cork (available through Arcadia Ireland)

    • Program type: University Study
    • Situated in the city of the same name (population 200,000) on the south coast of Ireland 160 miles from Dublin UCC has an enrollment of 17,000.
    • BSE-relevant courses are scattered through many departments, including Ecology, Environmental Science/Studies, Geography, Epidemiology & Public Health, and a number of the natural sciences.
    • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.


    Exchange in Oslo 

    • Program type: University Study
    • A bilateral exchange offers highly affordable access to Norway’s largest and oldest university, featuring a great variety of courses in sciences, social sciences, healthcare management, and the environment.
    • Sample course titles: Nature and Society; Cross-Cultural Perspective on the Environment, Environmental Philosophy and Ethics; and Environmental Economics.
    • No prior Norwegian is required. Many courses are taught in English; still more are available for students sufficiently proficient in Norwegian. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

    United Kingdom—England

    University Study in the UK: Queen Mary University of London

    • Program type: University Study
    • QM’s academic departments, library, students’ union, and administrative buildings are all on one campus in the multicultural East End, making it unique among the traditional London colleges.
    • BSE-relevant courses in this affordable program are scattered among many departments. Check especially under Biological & Chemical Sciences, Economics, and Geography
    • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

    Additional Options to Consider

    Intensive Language Programs

    • Begin your language study or work toward completing requirements for a language minor.
    • Work on your CLA language requirement or on a language minor while immersed in the language,
    • Complete two, three, or even four semesters of language in a semester or a summer.

    Global 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

    • 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.

    Non-Credit Opportunities

    • Non-credit opportunities can be a great option for students who do not need academic credit but want to gain skills and experience abroad related to their field of study.


    Student Experiences

    Visit the Learning Abroad Center's Student Experiences web page for details on other students' experiences studying abroad.