Learning Abroad in Religious Studies

Learning Abroad in Religious Studies

“What I took away was that in a place so completely foreign to me [India], becoming familiar with different places and people gave me a confidence and an incredible feeling of comfortableness… The purpose of my religious studies major—to understand the human experience–was profoundly illuminated in India.” —Caitlin Priem (class of 2010)

“I greatly enjoyed the Jordanian standard of hospitality, and I was also able to enjoy some great travel experiences both within and outside of Jordan.” —Joseph Mitchell (class of 2010)

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 Religious Studies program before beginning your study abroad research.

Choose your study abroad experience wisely

Align study abroad with your personal, academic, and professional goals

Work on your religious studies major or minor

Consider timing and length

Seek cultural immersion

Pay special attention to program type

Fulfill Liberal Education requirements

Once You Have Selected a Program

While You Are Abroad

After You Return

Programs

Africa and the Middle East

Israel

University Study in Israel: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center (also University Study)
  • Participants study in the Rothberg International School. Strengths include Jewish studies, Biblical history and archeology, Israeli and Middle Eastern studies, Islamic studies, Hebrew, and Arabic.
  • Although most Rothberg students are from other countries, participants fluent in Hebrew may also take regular Hebrew University courses alongside Israeli students. Internships also available.
  • Instruction at the Rothberg School is in English; no prior Hebrew is required. Fall semester, spring semester, academic year, or summer.

University Study in Israel: University of Haifa

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center (also University Study)
  • Participants study in the University of Haifa’s International School. Strengths include religious studies, Israeli and Middle Eastern studies, peace and conflict studies, and Hebrew and Arabic.
  • Although most students in International School courses are from other countries, participants fluent in Hebrew may also take regular University of Haifa courses alongside Israeli students.
  • Instruction at the International School is in English; no prior Hebrew is required. Fall semester, spring semester, academic year, or summer.

Kenya

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID)

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion. Great for students interested in social justice.
  • Past internship placements include rural women’s empowerment, literacy, ethnographic research, public health/nutrition, sustainable agriculture, community environmental conservation, refugees.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Swahili is required. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year; consider year option to maximize cultural immersion and gain deeper research experience.

Senegal

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID)

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion. Excellent for students interested in social justice issues.
  • Past internship placements include social work agencies, youth projects, women’s groups, orphanages, health clinics, community centers, and many more.
  • Instruction is in French. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year; consider enrolling in the full year option to maximize cultural immersion and gain deeper research experience.

South Africa

CIEE South Africa– service-learning

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around structured service placements in townships or other disadvantaged settings in Cape Town.
  • Includes classroom work, community-based research, and introductory study of Afrikaans or Xhosa. Excellent option for students interested in social justice issues.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of African languages required. Fall or spring semester.

University Study in South Africa: University of Cape Town 

  • Program type: University Study
  • A top-tier South African university that offers courses in the comparative study of religion, as well as in African religions and in Islam. Extensive volunteer opportunities available.
  • Sample course themes: religion and globalization, religion and postmodernity, religion and popular culture, gender and religion, religion and violence, religion and postcolonial theory.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of African languages required. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

Tunisia

SIT Tunisia – Emerging Identities in North Africa

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Tunis-based program examining culture, identity, and such themes as bilingualism, religion, mass media, and social movements, with a particular emphasis on youth.
  • Includes structured field experiences locally, field study in northern and southern Tunisia, and an independent research project.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Arabic or French is required. Fall or spring semester.

Americas

Argentina

Universidad Católica Argentina (available through CIEE Argentina—Liberal Arts)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Located in Buenos Aires, UCA offers a number of relevant courses through its Department of Philosophy. Instruction in Latin and Greek is available from first- through third-year levels.
  • Philosophy courses cover such areas as theology, ancient and medieval philosophy, philosophy of religion, and the social doctrine of the church.
  • Instruction is in Spanish. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

Dominican Republic

CIEE Dominican Republic – Santiago Service-Learning

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around structured service placements in or near Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second largest city.
  • Includes classroom work, community placement, community-oriented research, and additional Spanish instruction. Excellent option for students interested in social justice issues.
  • Instruction is in Spanish. Fall pr spring semester. Students wishing to study for a full year may combine this service-learning program with another CIEE program in Santiago or Santo Domingo.

Ecuador

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID)

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion. Excellent for students interested in social justice issues.
  • Past internship placements include rural women’s empowerment, literacy, public health/nutrition, sustainable agriculture, community environmental conservation, fishing or handicraft cooperatives.
  • Instruction is in Spanish. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year; consider enrolling in the full year option to maximize cultural immersion and gain deeper research experience.

Mexico

Study Abroad in Mexico

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • In addition to its intensive language study tracks, this University of Minnesota program in Cuernavaca offers a semester service-learning and language track built around a community service placement.
  • Excellent option for students interested in exploring social justice issues while improving Spanish language proficiency.
  • Instruction is in English; prior study of Spanish is very useful but not required. Fall or spring semester.

Asia and Oceania

China

CIEE China – Beijing: Chinese Language & Ethnic Studies

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Hosted by Central University of Nationalities, where students representing China’s 55 national minorities study.
  • Program focuses on China’s rich ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Chinese is required. Fall or spring semester.

SIT China – Chinese Culture & Ethnic Minorities

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Highly experiential, Kunming-based program that includes extensive group field visits plus an individual research project. Topics covered include traditional belief systems.
  • Includes multiple excursions within Kunming and to other areas of Yunnan Province, home to 25 of China’s recognized 56 ethnic groups, including Hmong and Tibetan.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of Chinese or of local minority languages is required. Fall or spring semester.

India

CIEE India

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Based at University of Hyderabad. The city of Hyderabad, located in southern India, is the country’s fifth-largest city.
  • Center courses offerings include Basic Sanskrit, Indian Philosophy, and Yoga. Regular university courses are available also; past offerings include Religion & Politics in Modern India.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of South Asian languages is required. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

SIT India – Himalayan Buddhist Art & Architecture

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Highly experiential program that includes opening and closing sessions in New Delhi, two weeks in Leh (Ladakh Valley), extensive travel in other areas of the Tibetan plateau, and individual research.
  • Focus is on the symbolism and cultural and religious significance of ancient (as well as newer) Indian art.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of South Asian languages is required. Summer.

Indonesia

SIT Indonesia – Arts, Religion, & Social Change

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Highly experiential program that includes extensive travel within Bali as well as Java, plus an individual research project.
  • Based on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali. Art (including its relationship to religion) receives more emphasis than religion per se.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of Indonesian languages is required. Summer.

Japan

Sophia University, Tokyo (available through CIEE Japan)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Jesuit university with two campuses, one of which teaches in English and draws many Japanese students who have lived abroad for extended periods of time.
  • Sample courses among many: Comparative Religion & Culture; Indian Mysticism; Japanese Religions; Philosophical Approaches to Buddhism; Religion,Conflict, & Violence; Symbol & Religion.
  • Instruction is in English; prior Japanese language study preferred but not required. Spring semester or academic year; calendar year and summer through CIEE only.

New Zealand

University Study in New Zealand: University of Auckland

  • Program type: University Study
  • New Zealand’s largest university, located in its largest city. Good place to keep on track for your language studies: Latin, ancient Greek, and a number of modern languages taught at all levels.
  • Rich array of religious studies courses scattered among Anthropology, Asian Studies, Biblical Studies, Christian Thought and History, History, Philosophy, Sociology, and Theology.
  • Instruction is in English, except that many Maori studies courses are taught in Maori. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago

  • Program type: University Study
  • Otago is located in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, a particularly attractive location for students interested in outdoor activities.
  • Although a small department, Religious Studies at Otago has strong offerings in Hinduism and Buddhism. Christianity and Judaism courses are available through the Theology department.
  • Instruction is in English. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

South Korea

University Study in South Korea: Yonsei University

  • Program type: University Study
  • Yonsei, located in Seoul, teaches mostly in English as a strategy to position Koreans for the global workforce; therefore, study abroad students are able to take courses alongside Korean students.
  • Relevant courses include: Christianity in Korea; Confucian Korea; Korean Philosophy; Cultural Tradition of East Asia. Even more courses are available for students sufficiently proficient in Korean.
  • Most instruction is in English; no prior Korean is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

Thailand 

MSID - International Development in Thailand

  • Based in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Explore the complexities created by issues such as environment, globalization, public health, and social justice
  • Contribute through an internship or research project with a nonprofit organization
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Thai required

Europe

Denmark

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.
  • Sample courses: Holocaust & Genocide; Kierkegaard’s Authorship; Muslims in the West; Nordic Mythology; Religion & Politics in Europe.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Danish is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

Greece

Arcadia Greece

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center (semester/AY), Field Study (summer)
  • Semester: Courses in three clusters: Ancient Greek/Classical Studies, Byzantine Studies, Modern Greek Studies. Latin or ancient Greek available on demand from beginning to advanced levels.
  • Summer: Two 3-week summer programs, on Archaic/Classical Greece and Hellenistic Greece, are built around field trips throughout Greece.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Greek, either ancient or modern, is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

Ireland

Trinity College Dublin (available through IES Ireland)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Prestigious institution located in the center of the Irish capital. Greatest strengths in religious studies are Christianity and Judaism; some courses available on Islam as well.
  • Sample subject areas: ancient and modern history; Greek and Roman culture; philosophy and theology; dialogue among religions; science-religion relationships; ethics; war and peace.
  • Instruction is in English. Academic year only.

Italy

IES Rome

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Area studies program taught mostly in English. Students sufficiently proficient in Italian may take; some additional center and university courses. Internships available.
  • Religious studies courses include: The Advent of Christianity; The Jews of Rome; Studies in the Roman Catholic Tradition; Issues in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church.
  • Most courses are taught in English; no prior Italian is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.

Spain

Study & Intern in Toledo

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Strong humanities/social science curriculum offers several courses of interest to religious studies majors, including Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Art in Toledo; and Theology of Spanish Mysticism.
  • Internships available, as well as a service-learning course on immigrants in Spain.
  • Instruction is in Spanish. Fall or spring semester, academic year, May term, or summer.

United Kingdom—England

Kings College London (available through IFSA-Butler England)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Students interested in applying should have minimum GPA of no less than 3.3.
  • The Theology and Religious Studies department is particularly strong in philosophy of religion. It also offers work in Hebrew Bible and Christianity and has an outstanding Classics program.
  • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

University Study in the UK: Lancaster University

  • Program type: University Study
  • Located between the Irish Sea and the moors of the Pennines, and just a short distance south of the Lake District, Lancaster enrolls some 10,000 students.
  • Extensive Religious Studies curriculum includes courses on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Japanese religion, sociology of religion, religion in the UK, and many more.
  • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) (available through IFSA-Butler England)

  • Program type: University Study
  • World center of expertise on Africa/Asia/Middle East. Courses offered on Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and various African indigenous religions.
  • Course themes include religion and politics, religion and current events, social/historical contexts of world religions. Students may register across departments to focus on their particular interests.
  • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

University of Manchester (available through Arcadia England)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Urban university in the heart of the vibrant, edgy, unpretentious industrial city of Manchester, “capital” of northern England.
  • Although the highly rated religious studies program offers a wide variety of courses, its greatest strengths are in Christianity and Judaism. Some courses in South Asian religions also available.
  • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

Untied Kingdom—Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: Democracy & Social Change (HECUA)

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Examines historical, political, economic, and religious roots of conflict in Northern Ireland, prospects for peace, and progress being made.
  • Half time, 8-credit internship complements classroom and field study and could easily focus on a topic related to religion.
  • Instruction is in English. Spring semester.

United Kingdom—Scotland

University of Edinburgh (available through IFSA-Butler Scotland)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Located in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the University of Edinburgh is among the UK’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.
  • Particularly strong in Christianity, Edinburgh also offers courses in Judaism, Asian religions, and African religions.
  • 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.

Full Scholarship Programs

  • Program type: University Study or Study Abroad Center
  • Apply for scholarship for a full-year exchange to a partner university in Ecuador or Iceland. Scholarships cover nearly all expenses except airfare.
  • Two years of prior Spanish for Ecuador, or Germany respectively; Iceland has no language prerequisite. Academic year only.

Student Project for Amity Among Nations (SPAN)

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Summer research abroad preceded by spring semester preparation and followed by fall semester project write-up; ideal vehicle for overseas research toward a senior project.
  • Faculty adviser helps students prepare, accompanies each group during the summer, and assists as the thesis is written.
  • Locations vary from year to year; two to four destinations offered annually. No language prerequisite for most sites. Summer.

Work, Intern, Volunteer, and Research Opportunities

  • Consider a study abroad program that includes structured experiences outside the classroom such as research opportunities.
  • Don’t confine your search to study abroad; check out non-credit online WIV or teaching English first step module
  • Consider combining a WIV experience with study abroad.

Student Experiences

Caitlin P. Studies Development in India
On the MSID program, Caitlin studied development in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and interned in with an educational program for tribal children.

Craig in Ecuador
Through the year-long MSID program in Ecuador, Craig C. was able to take an internship within his Physiology major while also receiving classroom credits towards his Spanish major.

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