Learning Abroad for Student-Athletes

Learning Abroad for Student-Athletes

The Athletics Department and the McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes fully support student-athlete participation in the University's Learning Abroad program.  We see this as an extraordinary opportunity for a one of a kind student learning experience in a different part of the world and have had many student-athletes participate over the years."
JT Bruett, Director of the McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes

Learning Abroad Process

This is the basic Learning Abroad Process you'll complete. The order in which you do things is somewhat flexible.

Academic Planning

Review the following suggestions before beginning your study abroad research.

Student-athletes can still go abroad with careful planning. The University wants you to include an international experience as an integral part of your undergraduate career. Learning abroad can fit very effectively into your University of Minnesota degree plan without delaying your graduation.  

Time your learning abroad opportunity so it works in your schedule and in your intended major. Students and their current advisers must carefully evaluate and plan course sequencing into any learning abroad experience.

Programs vary in length, academic focus, teaching format, language requirements, cost, and degree of independence demanded of the participant.

Major Advising Pages

Academic departments and the Learning Abroad Center collaborated to create Major Advising Pages to identify appropriate international opportunities for your intended major. They help identify appropriate timing, course selection, suggested programs, and other considerations. 

Liberal Education Requirements

Fulfill Language Requirements

If you are fulfilling a second language requirement, be sure to consult with an academic adviser.  

Student-Athlete Study Abroad Process

This is the basic process you’ll complete in order to study abroad.  

1. Getting Started with the McNamara Academic Center (MAC) for Student-Athletes

2. Getting Started with the Learning Abroad Center

3. Explore Program Options

4. Visit the Resource Center for Program Selection and Advising

5. Consult with Your College/Major Adviser(s)

6. Select and Finalize your Program in Consultation with your MAC Counselor

7. Meet with the Scholarship Coordinator in the Compliance Office

8. Submit Program Application

Special Considerations for Student-Athletes


Credit Arrangments

As a student-athlete, you MUST choose a program that yields resident credits, meaning that you will earn an actual grade for the course on your University of Minnesota transcript, rather than just transfer credits.


Speak with your MAC Counselor and the Compliance staff with regards to any specific eligibility issues. The NCAA has strict requirements regarding participating in outside competition; be sure to obtain all the necessary information from Compliance and your MAC Counselor prior to going abroad.


Even more so than most students, it is essential that while you are abroad you continue to maintain your physical fitness. Speak with your coach and/or trainers about developing a plan for while you’re away.  

Programs with Access to Workout Facilities


University Study in Australia: University of Melbourne

University of Wollongong (available through Arcadia)

University Study in Australia: James Cook University-Townsville


Study Abroad in Montpellier, Universite Paul Valery


University Study in Ireland: University of Limerick

New Zealand

University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago

University Study in New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington


University Study in Norway: University of Bergen

Exchange in Oslo 

University Study in Norway: Norweigan University of Life Sciences

South Korea

University Study in South Korea: Yonsei University

United Kingdom

Study & Intern in London

University Study in the United Kingdom: Northumbria University

University Study in the United Kingdom: Lancaster University


Additional Options to Consider

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.

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.

Work, Intern, and Volunteer (WIV) Abroad Programs (non-credit)

  • Explore new interests or gain experience related to your field of study.
  • Consider paid and unpaid opportunities offered throughout the year at locations around globe.

Timing by Sport

The table in the following section provides some general guidelines by sport; however, it is essential to speak early with your coach and MAC Counselor to determine the most appropriate times for your particular case. Note: Some of the times listed on the sheet will work only if you are able to find sufficient training facilities to train while studying abroad; consult early with your coach.

SportFall Sem.Winter BreakSpring Sem.May TermSummer*Spring Sr. yr.
Basketball        Y M  
Golf   Y     Y  
Gymnastics       Y Y  
Hockey       Y Y  
Rowing  M M     Y  
Soccer   M   Y Y Y
Softball         Y  
Swimming/Diving       Y M  
Tennis   M   Y  
Track & CC         Y  
Volleyball   M   Y M Y
Baseball   Y     Y  
Basketball       Y M  
Football       Y M Y
Golf   Y     Y  
Gymnastics       Y Y  
Hockey       Y Y  
Swimming/Diving       Y M  
Tennis   M   M Y  
Track & CC         Y  
Wrestling       Y Y  


Y - Times generally work for students 

M - Times that are less than optimal but might work after speaking with MAC Counselor 

Blank - Times that most student athletes should not consider except possibly during a redshirt year



* For many sports summer suitability depends on length of program and which months.  Consult with your MAC Counselor and coach when planning a study abroad experience.  

** If you plan to use your scholarship or financial aid to study abroad consult with your MAC Counselor and the Scholarship Coordinator in the Compliance Office about its applicability.


Will studying abroad conflict with my athletics schedule and commitments?

  • Each sport is unique. All have different schedules, season lengths, structure, etc. As a result, it is extremely important that you have clear and upfront conversations with your coaches and MAC Counselor. They will be able to help you gauge whether a particular study abroad opportunity would pose any conflicts to your athletic commitments.
  • Fortunately, study abroad calendars are many and varied. Programs are offered fall and spring semester alike, as well as during winter break, May term, early summer, mid summer, and late summer.
  • Through conversations with coaches, support staff, and the Learning Abroad Center, you should be able to identify a program that works for you.

I'm worried about staying in shape while I'm away. Are there programs that would have the time and resources so I could maintain my physical fitness?

  • Sure, lots of them. If this is a crucial issue for you, before you commit to a particular program ask the corresponding adviser in the Learning Abroad Center to inquire about what sorts of facilities on site will be available.
  • Does the environment lend itself to jogging? Are gyms, health clubs, swimming pools, or other workout facilities available to program participants? If so, are any extra costs involved beyond the program fee?

What if the application deadline for my program is before the date I will know whether I get into post-season competition?

  • The Learning Abroad Center will be happy to help you pick a program that might be more flexible with regard to application deadlines.
  • Each case is different; the key is go get into the Learning Abroad Center as early as possible so you can get help in your program selection and planning. You will also need to consult early with your coach, of course.

Have other student-athletes studied abroad, and if so, what was their experience?

A number of student-athletes have studied abroad in recent years, and all of them have described the experience as one of the most significant of their undergraduate years. One student referred to her time in Australia as the “best two months of my life!”

Can I study abroad more than once?

Sure! For example, you can use a short-term introductory program to get your feet wet as a freshman or sophomore, then spend a semester or year abroad, often in a different location, as a junior or senior. Or you may want to do two or three short-term programs, especially if your calendar constraints as a student-athlete make longer periods of time abroad difficult.

Student Experiences

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