Can Biology students study abroad? Yes, a variety of study abroad programs can fit in with the Biology major without delaying graduation. In fact, the Biology major consistently ranks in the top ten majors sending students abroad! Many students use this international opportunity to take unique bioscience courses at other institutions that count for their major, while others use this opportunity to focus on non-science coursework and explore other topics that interest them. Similar to each individual student’s 4-year plan, there are many ways to study abroad in the Biology major. Schedule an appointment with a Study Abroad advisor and your Biology Major advisor to get the process started by exploring programs that best fit with your academic plans and personal goals.
Prospective Biology Students
To study abroad, ensure you are familiar with the Biology major requirements and work with your advisor on developing your 4-year plan. Your 4-year plan will provide a sense of how and when study abroad will best complement your major and degree. A common initial question is whether you want or need to take courses abroad that will count for the major. Answering this question by accessing and establishing your goals and priorities can give you a sense of what programs to explore in depth.
You can study abroad at any point during your time at UW-Madison, but most students choose to study abroad during their junior or senior year. We recommend completing core coursework such as introductory mathematics, chemistry, and Biology requirements for the major at UW-Madison. This said, you could always study abroad earlier and complete core coursework after returning. If you are applying to professional health programs (such as medical school or dental school), you are advised to complete the majority of their pre-requisite coursework at UW-Madison.
To gain background information about study abroad and the various programs available, attend the Study Abroad Fair on campus, visit the Program Search database on the International Academic Programs (IAP) website, and/or meet with advisors at IAP.
Biology Course Considerations Abroad
Many study abroad programs offer a plethora of excellent upper level bioscience courses. Students often complete courses abroad that count for intermediate/advanced Biology breadth courses (categories A-E) that fulfill requirement #5 for the major. Some programs have classes already equated to UW-Madison courses that fulfill this requirement. These equivalencies can be found on each program’s academic page. Programs may not have all courses pre-equated simply because no student has taken them in the past. How do you know if a course will likely count as a course for the major? A good rule of thumb is to look for upper-level bioscience courses that have science pre-requisites. Once you have identified courses of interest, work with your Study Abroad Advisor to gather syllabi if possible. Then, meet with your Biology Advisor to determine if and how the course will count towards your major or degree requirements. You will work with IAP to complete the approval process.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience in the Biology Major
At UW-Madison, focus on a balanced schedule of courses that begin the curricular building blocks for your major. Investigate winter intersession and summer term programs that interest you. Explore potential semester and summer programs for the future.
At UW-Madison, continue a balanced schedule of classes that build the foundation for your Biology major. You may consider going abroad this year on either a semester or a summer program. Meet with your Biology advisor to ensure you are on track with core chemistry and Biology courses. This can also be a year to narrow down programs for future terms.
This is the most popular year to study abroad, as will you have likely completed the majority of your introductory coursework. This will allow you to take advantage of a range of programs that offer unique and interesting upper-level coursework in the biosciences that will count for the Biology major.
It is not too late! You can study abroad senior year without delay in graduation with careful planning with your advisor. All returned students should meet with career services to explore how to best convey the international experience to future employers, to graduate schools, and on personal statements.
Questions to Ask
Your Biology Advisor
- What Biology major courses do I have left to complete? Are there specific courses should I plan on taking at UW? When are these typically taught?
- What general education requirements do I need to complete?
- What factors should I consider if I am on a pre-health track and need to plan for exams like the MCAT?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What programs offer courses I would like to take?
- What programs offer the study abroad experience that best fits my needs?
- When and how do I select courses for my program, and when will I hear about course equivalencies?
- What are the classes like abroad, and how do they differ from UW-Madison courses?
- What is the application and notification timeline for programs and scholarships?
- Why do I want to study abroad?
- How will studying abroad enhance my academic and global perspectives?
- What are my academic and personal goals?
- How long do I want to study abroad?
- How much can I afford to spend?
Identifying Programs to Explore
There are many different study abroad programs available to you. Programs vary in their course offerings, language of instruction, duration, and cost. It is important to consider your goals and priorities in selecting a program. The list below is not exhaustive but is demonstrative of programs that offer bioscience courses. There may be other programs that better align with your goals and interests. To explore all study abroad program visit the IAP Program Search page.
South Africa, Cape Town / University of Cape Town Exchange
Tanzania, Karatu / SFS Wildlife Management & Wildlife Research
China, Hong Kong / Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Exchange
Thailand, Chiang Rai / UW Microbiology and Public Health in Northern Thailand
Singapore / National University of Singapore Exchange
South Korea, Seoul / Yonsei University Exchange
Fall could be a good fit for many biology majors. Spring students should read the course pre-requisites carefully. Formal approval of CERs is by the department granting the CER; biology can review/approve for the major requirements when a student has a complete syllabus.
England, Leeds / University of Leeds Exchange
England, Bristol / University of Bristol Exchange
Denmark, Copenhagen / Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
Netherlands, Wageningen / Wageningen University Exchange
Latin America and Caribbean
Costa Rica, Atenas / SFS Sustainable Development Studies
Costa Rica, Monteverde / CIEE Tropical Ecology and Conservation in Costa Rica
Ecuador, Quito / Ceiba Tropical Conservation Semester: Galapagos, Andes and Amazon
Panama, Bocas del Toro / SFS Tropical Island Biodiversity & Conservation Studies
Turks & Caicos, South Caicos Island / SFS Marine Resource Studies
Australia, Brisbane / University of Queensland Exchange
Australia, Cairns & Townsville / James Cook University
Australia, Yungaburra / SFS Rainforest Studies
New Zealand, Multiple / Massey University Exchange