Learning Abroad Center

Learning Abroad in Pre-Health Sciences

This advising resource is intended for students planning a career in any health profession.

Academic Planning

Review the following suggestions before beginning your study abroad research.

  • Health profession admissions committees conduct a holistic review of applicants. They look at the GPA and test scores in the larger context of a student’s courses, experiences, achievements and challenges.
  • At the University of Minnesota, the Pre-Health Student Resource Center staff work collaboratively with your academic adviser to assure you meet both the academic prerequisites and build the strongest, most competitive application for a health profession program.

Students who gain relevant experiences beyond the classroom tend to be stronger candidates for health profession programs. This includes study abroad, which provides students an opportunity for personal growth and an understanding of health issues in the broader global community.

There are some important things to consider when planning your study abroad experience:

Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS)

If you plan to participate in a program where you may have interaction with patients, please complete the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS) online module. This interactive online workshop developed by the Pre-Health Student Resource Center will help you:

  • prepare for your experience abroad
  • use your experience abroad to make a positive impact on your health program application
  • consider the legal and ethical boundaries that should guide your activities while abroad
  • understand your own limitations as an unlicensed student

Meeting Academic Requirements

Planning to go abroad requires finding out if your study abroad classes will count toward:

  • your degree (liberal education)
  • your major
  • your prerequisites for a health profession program

Combining all of these will give you a comprehensive academic plan.


  • Some health profession programs will not allow prerequisites to be taken abroad. If you choose to take a prerequisite abroad, you will need to take an advanced course in that subject upon return to meet the prerequisite requirement. Lab work would also need to be taken at a higher level when you return. If, for example, a school will not allow you to use the biology and lab courses you took abroad to qualify as a prerequisite, you can fulfill your prerequisite requirement by taking an advanced biology course with an advanced lab back at your home school.

Liberal Education requirements

  • Plan early to apply study abroad credits to the University’s Liberal Education requirements. Decide which liberal education requirements you want to satisfy through courses taken abroad so you do not fulfill them on campus.
  • Consult the Learning Abroad Center’s U Credit Abroad Search to find courses that have been approved for Liberal Education.


  • Timing your study abroad opportunity so it works in your schedule, in your major, and in your health profession application can be a challenge. Students and their advisers must carefully evaluate and plan course sequencing into any study abroad experience.
  • Application timing includes: completing the necessary prerequisites, taking an entrance exam (MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT or other), completing an application and possibly going through an interview process.
  • It is best, to begin with, the end in mind. Identify when you want to begin a health profession program, and then work backward to determine when you will need to submit an application, take the entrance exam, or complete course work.
  • It may seem convenient to go abroad after you have submitted an application to a health profession program. However, if that program requires interviews, you will not want to be out of the country during that semester.

Seek the right experiences

  • The purpose of studying abroad is to have a cross-cultural experience. Look for programs that offer significant cultural integration. Extensive involvement in the host culture leads to personal growth and instills the cross-cultural skills that are so important to success as a health professional.
  • If you prefer to participate in a classroom-based group program, consider seeking one that houses you with a family or host-country roommate. Look for experiences outside the classroom such as internships, community engagement, or research opportunities. In many countries, this will be in the community, rather than in a clinic or hospital.
  • Some study abroad programs have a “health” focus. Review the options and identify programs that will help you strengthen your knowledge of global health issues.
  • If you speak the language, consider learning the medical terminology of another language.
  • Consider health care in the broader context of health and the social systems that support health. Understanding health and health care in a larger social context will help you to be more effective as a future health professional.


Africa and the Middle East


MSID—International Development in Senegal

  • Program term: fall or spring semester
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion
  • Past MSID health internship foci have included: public health/nutrition, women's’ maternal health, pediatrics, HIV/AIDS awareness
  • Interns observe daily activities and engage in research and discussions involving health care in developing countries
  • Research option available
  • Instruction is in French

South Africa

IES South Africa — Summer Health Studies

  • Study in Cape Town — an ideal location to experience the complex socio-economic health care challenges of a multicultural developing country with great disparities
  • Take classes in a wide range of health-related topics, including the intersections of environment, health and development, the impact of globalization on health and development, and endemic diseases and their socio-economic context. Students can also take classes in history, political science, child studies, and more.
  • The program also offers opportunities to complete observational rotations at a selection of local organizations such as hospitals, clinics, old-age homes, and health-related NGOs
  • All courses are taught in English
  • Summer term only

University of Cape Town (available through IES South Africa)

  • Program term: academic year, calendar year, fall or spring semester
  • Courses through the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Humanities, including anatomy, biology, medical anthropology, microbiology, molecular and cell biology, neuroscience, physiology, psychology, and more.
  • This program is a university study program, which allows you to directly enroll in a foreign university and take classes with host country students. Instruction is in English by African faculty
  • No language prerequisite



Study & Intern in Buenos Aires

  • Program term: academic year, fall or spring semester (Winter break and short term summer are intensive language only)
  • Center-based study program is offered in collaboration with the prestigious José Ortega y Gasset Foundation and the University of Minnesota.
  • "Cross Cultural Psychology" as well as "Paradox of Mental Health: Biological or Cultural" classes offered during semester programs
  • Homestays further enrich cultural immersion
  • No Spanish required - intensive Spanish classes offered at all levels


MSID—International Development in Ecuador

  • Program term: fall or spring semester
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion
  • Past MSID health internship foci have included: public health/nutrition, disease mapping, maternal health, pediatrics, HIV/AIDS awareness
  • Interns observe daily activities and engage in research and discussions involving health care in developing countries
  • 2 years college-level Spanish require

Health in Ecuador: Humans, Animals, & Ecosystems

  • Term: Spring Break (Spring Semester on campus)
  • Learn about the intersection between animal health, human health, and the environment by studying the history and ecosystems of Ecuador.
  • During spring break week, you will apply the knowledge learned in the early spring semester to observations and experiences in Ecuador.
  • Site visits and discussions will explore the culture of Ecuador, human, animal, and ecosystem health in tropical rainforest and reef ecosystems including the culture, livelihood, and health of indigenous populations; conservation efforts; and ecotourism.

Asia and Oceania


Study & Intern in Sydney

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, summer
  • Summer internship program available.
  • Past health-related internship opportunities include public health and medical research projects

James Cook University (available through IFSA Australia)

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • Health-related courses include: nursing, occupational health, speech/language pathology
  • Courses feature fieldwork and internships
  • There may be prerequisites for specific courses

University of Melbourne (available through IFSA Australia)

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • Coursework available in biological and physical sciences
  • Health-related courses include: public/community health, nursing, art or music therapy
  • Fieldwork and lab research is available
  • There may be prerequisites for specific courses


Health & Medicine in India

  • Term: Winter Break (Spring semester on campus)
  • This global experience will allow you to more fully understand health, healthcare, and public health in the context of a historical culture and a rapidly developing economy of India.
  • Explore areas in and around Mysore, India, to compare the social and cultural contexts of Indian and American health and medicine. While abroad, take classes at Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (VIIS), an educational institution of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), a leading NGO in the field of health and development in India.
  • Field visits and excursions will illuminate the coursework

SIT India: Public Health, Gender, & Sexuality

  • Term: fall or spring
  • Learn about reproductive healthcare in India and examine how India's healthcare systems approach the reproductive health of sexual minorities
  • Program combines classroom-based learning, including a Hindi language course, with an independent study project or internship
  • Includes a week-long excursion to the Himalayas to learn about rural healthcare

New Zealand

University Study in New Zealand: University of Auckland

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • Biology course titles include: Biology for Biomedical Sciences: Cellular Processes and Development, Genetics, Food and Beverage Microbiology, and Developmental Biology and Cancer, and Nutritional Science
  • Health-related course titles include: Social Science for Health, Current Debates in Health and Health Policy, and Science
  • There may be prerequisites for specific courses

University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • Courses available in the sciences, physical education, liberal arts and others
  • Health-related areas of study at this university include Drugs and Human Health; Infection and Immunity; Nutrition, Metabolism and Human Health; and Reproduction, Genetics and Development
  • There may be prerequisites for specific courses

Victoria Univerisity of Wellington (available through IFSA New Zealand)

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • Wide variety of subject choices available
  • Health-related course titles: The Biology of Disease, Physiology and Pharmacology, Abnormal Psychology, and Popular Psychology
  • There may be prerequisites for specific courses


MSID—International Development in Thailand

  • Program term: fall or spring semester
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion
  • Past MSID health internship foci have included: health promotion and prevention programs and HIV/AIDS awareness projects with youth
  • Interns observe daily activities and engage in research and discussions involving health care in developing countries
  • Research option available
  • No language prerequisite


SIT Vietnam: Traditional Medicine & Community Health

  • Program term: summer
  • Traditional Medicine and Community Health course and either Vietnamese or Chinese language course (taught at beginning, intermediate, or advanced level)
  • Learn about healthcare and health delivery among diverse groups, including marginalized and indigenous populations, and the philosophy behind traditional Vietnamese medicine and its connection with traditional Chinese medicine
  • No language prerequisite



Study Abroad in Denmark and Summer in Denmark & Sweden

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, summer 3-, 6-, or 10-week
  • Semester Programs include Medical Practice & Policy (classes taught at hospitals by physicians), Biomedicine (focus on drug development), and Public Health (focus on comparative policy models) and neuroscience. All students go on course-integrated, faculty-led study tours across Europe, included tuition
  • Summer courses may include Health Delivery and Prioritization in Northern Europe, Human Health and Disease: A Clinical Approach, Medical Biotechnology and Drug Development, Public Health in the Arctic, and Sports Medicine: Performance and Fatigue
  • No language prerequisite - all courses taught in English by Danish faculty
  • Research option available


  • Term: May Session (Spring Semester)
  • Explore innovative health care and the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals in Montpellier
  • This is an embedded spring semester course, with the abroad portion in France taking place over May session at the end of the semester and on-campus classes taking place in the second half of the spring semester
  • For the on-campus portion of the course, a remote/distance option is available to University of Minnesota Rochester students


University Study in Ireland: University of Limerick

  • Program term: summer
  • Developing Self as a Healthcare Practitioner course interweaves a spiritual dimension to healthcare, exploring the psychosocial, cultural and spiritual elements in transforming personal and professional practice
  • Designed for students from all healthcare fields
  • Offered by the University of Limerick's renowned Department of Nursing and Midwifery
  • Includes classroom dialogues, visits to clinical sites, and excursions exploring cultural heritage


Cross-Cultural Health in Spain

  • Program location: Toledo, Spain
  • Program term: fall semester, spring semester, summer
  • Courses offered include: Global Bioethics, Diversity in Global Health, and Comparative Public Health (taught in English); Medical Spanish, Healthcare and Communications (taught in Spanish); many additional electives are also offered and taught in Spanish
  • Health-related internships are available
  • Prerequisite of 2nd semester Spanish or above

Psychology and Research in Madrid

  • Program term: academic year, fall semester, spring semester, and summer session
  • This program is offered in collaboration with the prestigious José Ortega-Marañón Foundation and the University of Minnesota
  • Various classes in Neuroscience and Psychology: Human Neuroanatomy, Abnormal Psychology, Biological Psychology, Cross Cultural Psychology, Health Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Research Laboratory
  • Neuroscience and Psychology research placements are available
  • Health-related internships are available
  • Language and culture classes also available in English and in Spanish
  • No previous Spanish required but one year is preferred


Study Abroad in Sweden

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • DIS, one of Europe's largest and academically strongest study abroad programs, offers a wide variety of courses and study tours in Stockholm, Scandinavia, and Europe.
  • Courses offered in Gender & Sexuality, Medical Practice & Policy, and Psychology
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Swedish is required. Fall or spring semester.

United Kingdom

Study & Intern in London and Study Compartive Health Care & Intern in London (Summer only)

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, summer session
  • Internship placements may be possible within the healthcare industry
  • Past internship experiences include clinic, hospital and research settings
  • The London program has also established a good working relationship with one of the largest and busiest hospitals in London. Sample placements have included internships in departments such as Accident & Emergency, Biochemistry, Liver Unit, Nutrition and Dietetics, Pharmacy and Trauma & Orthopedics

Summer in Scotland

  • Program term: summer session
  • Summer course offerings include Functional Anatomy, Bioscience for Global Disease, and Essential Genetics and courses in a variety of other disciplines

University Study in the UK: Queen Mary University, University of London

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • The only option in London with a campus environment, Queen Mary offers students the opportunity to live and study with British students
  • Courses available in a wide range of science and liberal arts areas
  • Pre-health track includes Medicine in the UK: Medieval Mysticism to Modern Socialized Medicine course
  • Fall or spring semester, academic year

University Study in the UK: Glasgow University

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, summer, academic year
  • Anatomy for Pre-Med Program: designed for US study abroad students, offered during Fall or Spring semester, and as a stand-alone summer program
  • Courses available in a wide range of science and liberal arts areas
  • Option to study at the Dumfries campus in southern Scotland.  Sample health-related courses include "Contemporary Health Issues" and "Health, Wellbeing, and Sustainability"
  • There may be prerequisites for specific courses

King's College London Premed Program (available through IFSA United Kingdom)

  • Program term: fall or spring semester, academic year
  • The King's competitive pre-med program is designed to introduce students to the general practice of medicine and is suitable for all students who are interested in pursuing further education within the healthcare field.
  • Premed students will typically take three science courses together with a fourth course, Health and Society, which combines in-class curriculum with a range of shadowing opportunities in different clinical settings.
  • The clinical attachment portion of the program enables students to apply class theory to a number of primary and secondary care settings, including the emergency room, nursing homes, alcohol recovery programs, family medicine, surgery and more.

Also Consider

Child Family Health International

  • Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, South Africa, Uganda
  • 2, 4, or 8-week programs; some sites have a language requirement
  • Child Family Health International offers community-based global health education programs for health science students
  • This is an affiliate, non-credit program

Additional Options to Consider

LAC 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.
  • Explore an exciting location and topic, Fulfill Liberal Education requirements, or earn major/minor credit.

LAC Freshman Seminars

  • Combine on-campus instruction during the spring semester with a study abroad component during spring break, on a 3 credits, 1xxx level Seminar.
  • Freshman Seminars Abroad are designed specifically for first-year students as an introduction to study abroad, an opportunity to explore an exciting location and topic, and likely fulfill a liberal education requirement.

Additional LAC Seminars

  • Check out additional LAC Instructor-led Seminars that might run over winter break, spring break, May, and summer sessions. They vary in length, dates, and content so students can find one that best fits their academic and professional goals.

Intensive Language Programs

  • Begin your language study or work toward completing requirements for a language minor.
  • Complete a semester of language on a short-term program or explore options to complete two or more semesters of language on semester-long program.