Looking to study abroad? As a prospective or current student in Environmental Studies, the multidisciplinary path of the major can sometimes feel as if there is not enough time for studying abroad; however, it is most certainly an option! Studying abroad can allow you the opportunity to fulfill your field experience, learn a new language, explore non-science coursework, strengthen your understanding of environmental issues throughout the world, or combine any other passions — all without delaying your graduation if you plan ahead. Not only that, but the international experience gained from studying abroad is highly attractive to potential graduate programs and employers. There are endless opportunities that can work with your interests and needs. Explore the programs that best fit with your personal goals and academic plans and then schedule an appointment with a Study Abroad advisor and your Environmental Studies advisor to get the process started. The information below is intended to help you make studying abroad a reality!
Prospective Environmental Studies Majors
Before you begin planning to study abroad, make sure that you are familiar with your course requirements for both Environmental Studies and your second degree. You should create your four-year plan, which will help provide you with a sense of when the best time to study abroad will be. Establishing your priorities will help you determine if the courses that you take abroad will need to be ones that will count towards your Environmental Studies degree, your other major, or just for personal enrichment.
Commonly, Environmental Studies students at UW-Madison study abroad during their third year. This is because it is recommended that core courses such as chemistry and biology are completed here on campus the first year or two, before you go abroad. The exact time that you choose to study abroad varies from person to person and depends on many factors, so make sure to choose a time that works best for you and your schedule.
In order to learn more background information about studying abroad and all of the programs available to you, check out the Study Abroad Fair on campus, visit the Program Search database on the International Academic Programs (IAP) website, and meet with advisors at the IAP. Remember, the earlier that you begin planning and exploring, the better.
Environmental Studies Course Considerations Abroad
There are a wide variety of opportunities to complete Environmental Studies courses while you are studying abroad. Most universities offer the equivalent of general education requirements, major-specific courses, and elective options. These choices will vary, depending on your program. If you are participating in a summer, winter, or spring break program—like any of the field, global health, or research-based experiences, fulfilling certain requirements are usually not as much of a concern, since your study abroad is not replacing an entire semester.
Many study abroad programs already have equated their courses to UW-Madison courses. These equivalencies can be found on each program’s page in the academics tab. However, not all possible courses are always pre-equated because that requires a student to have taken them in the past. This means that you can still enroll in a class not already pre-equated. You will get instructions for this after acceptance in your MyStudyAbroad account.
Mapping your Study Abroad Experience as an Environmental Studies Major
There is not a *universally-perfect* time for everyone to study abroad—the timing will vary. You may see that it is popular for Environmental Studies students to go during their third year, as we previously mentioned, because of the ability to complete core classes on campus in the first and second years. But the variety of programs offered provides flexibility for your schedule, so don’t feel pressured to go during one certain break or semester. The time that you study abroad will ultimately come down to your individual preferences and circumstances. This is YOUR adventure and you have the power to create it however you would like (with the help of your academic and study abroad advisors, of course)!
Your first year at UW-Madison should be spent exploring all of the endless opportunities that the campus has to offer. Many Environmental Studies students take their general education requirements during these semesters. Courses in the Foundation Section of Environmental Studies are also good options, along with any classes for your second degree. When it comes to studying abroad, you could spend your first year investigating the different programs that interest you. Make sure to read up on things such as expectations, structures, funding, and location. If you have any questions, check out the Study Abroad page or contact one of your advisors.
By the end of your second year, you should finish your general education requirements. Environmental Studies students generally take many of their Foundation Courses during this time and can begin to dive into the Environmental Theme Courses. Don’t forget to also enroll in classes for your second degree. If you have not done so already, this is the time that you should reach out to your advisors to discuss your options for studying abroad. Some students may study abroad during their second year if their foundational courses have been completed. No matter what, it is good to have an exact plan by this time of which specific study abroad program you would like to participate in and when you would like to do it. Don’t forget that there are certain eligibility requirements and that you will need to apply to your program.
Your third year is when you will probably be finishing your Environmental Studies and second-degree requirements as you enroll in elective classes. This is a great time to study abroad because you will have completed most of your introductory coursework on campus already and can now take advantage of more interesting upper-level coursework in a variety of study abroad programs (hint: you will need a Field Experience as part of your Environmental Studies requirements). Of course, you want to make sure that you are still on track for timely graduation, so don’t forget to keep in close communication with all of your advisors. If you are planning on studying abroad sometime after your third year, you should continue with your Theme Courses and planning to ensure that your study abroad experience will be as best as it possibly can be.
Fourth Year and Beyond
Your fourth year, and any subsequent ones, will involve wrapping up all of the rest of your requirements — including your Capstone Experiences — and may provide some room for electives. Of course, it is not too late to study abroad during this time! Studying abroad close to your graduation time would provide you with a fresh international experience as you communicate with future employers or graduate schools. Just make sure that if you are studying abroad after your third year, that you are paying careful attention to the senior residency requirement (that credits 90-120 must be earned in residence). Fortunately, credits earned abroad through UW-approved programs still qualify as in residence. If you choose to study abroad near graduation, you should also be aware that you could miss the official graduation ceremony if your program extends longer than the UW-Madison semester. Your advisors can help you plan all of this ahead of time!
Questions to Ask
- Why do I want to study abroad?
- How will studying abroad enhance my academic and global perspectives?
- What are my academic goals?
- What are my personal goals?
- How long do I want to study abroad?
- How much can I afford to spend on my study abroad experience?
- Do I intend to pursue any post-undergraduate education?
- What part of the world do I want to study abroad in?
Your Environmental Studies and Second Degree Advisor
- What Environmental Studies major courses do I have left to complete?
- What major courses for my second degree do I have left to complete?
- Are there specific courses that I need to take on campus at UW-Madison?
- What general education requirements do I need to complete?
- When would be the best time to go abroad given my goals and remaining requirements?
- Would a study abroad experience enhance my curricular studies?
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?
- 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 class structure for field-based programs like abroad?
- What is the application and notification timeline for programs and scholarships?
- Can financial aid be applied to study abroad programs?
- Can you give me a sense of who my fellow program participants will be?
Identifying Programs That Are Right For You
There are so many different study abroad programs for you — how do you pick one? Narrowing them down by course offerings, the language of instruction, duration, cost, and location can be good starting points. Most importantly, you want to consider your own goals and priorities. The following list is not exhaustive but provides programs that would be beneficial for Environmental Studies students. In addition to these, explore all of the study abroad programs on the IAP Program Search page. Along the way, be sure to consult with your advisors to see if they have any advice or recommendations pertaining to your specific program.
Ghana, Multiple | UW Health & Food Systems: Human, Agricultural, & Environmental Health in Ghana
Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro Foothills | SFS Water and Wildlife Studies
South Africa, Cape Town | University of Cape Town Exchange
Tanzania, Karatu | SFS Wildlife Management & Wildlife Research
Uganda, Multiple | UW Agriculture, Health & Nutrition in Uganda
Bhutan, Paro | SFS Himalayan Studies
Cambodia, Siem Reap | SFS Conservation and Development Studies
Hong Kong, Hong Kong | Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Exchange
Thailand, Chiang Mai | UW Microbiology and Public Health in Northern Thailand
Singapore, Singapore | National University of Singapore Exchange
South Korea, Seoul | Korea University Exchange
Czech Republic, Prague | Czech University of Life Sciences Exchange
Denmark, Copenhagen | DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia
England, Bristol | University of Bristol Exchange
France, Lyon | ISARA Lyon Exchange – Agroecology Summer School
France, Montpellier | Montpellier SupAgro Exchange
Iceland, Reykjavik | University of Iceland Exchange
Ireland, Galway | IFSA National University Ireland, Galway
Netherlands, Wageningen | Wageningen University Exchange
Sweden, Multiple | Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Exchange
Wales, Cardiff | Cardiff University
Latin America and the Caribbean
Belize, Southwater Caye | Ceiba Marine Biology of Coral Reefs
Costa Rica, Atenas | SFS Sustainable Development Studies
Costa Rica, Monteverde | CIEE Tropical Ecology and Conservation in Costa Rica
Costa Rica, Multiple | UW Tropical Horticulture in Costa Rica
Ecuador, Quito | Ceiba Tropical Conservation Semester: Galapagos, Andes and Amazon
Mexico, Guadalajara | UW Wildlife Ecology in Mexico
Panama, Bocas del Toro | SFS Tropical Island Biodiversity & Conservation Studies
Trinidad and Tobago, St. Augustine | University of the West Indies Exchange
Turks and Caicos, South Caicos Island | SFS Marine Resource Studies
Australia, Brisbane | University of Queensland Exchange
Australia, Sydney | Macquarie University Exchange
Australia, Yungaburra | SFS Rainforest Studies
New Zealand, Multiple | Massey University Exchange