Science is a universal field, with many options to study internationally. Whether doing fieldwork in a rain forest in Costa Rica, taking health-related courses in Denmark, or participating in genetics research in the United Kingdom, there are many ways to incorporate your interest in genetics into an international experience. Your study abroad experience could be a “typical” classroom experience, or it could be based around an internship, field work, or research experience. Beyond your science-related experience, studying or researching abroad can help you build cultural competence, problem-solving abilities, and world language skills.
Prospective Genetics Students
Genetics and Genomics supports all students considering studying abroad. As a Genetics and Genomics major, you can study abroad during almost any term in your college career, including winter or summer, but there are some important factors to consider. If you begin your planning early and intentionally, it is possible to study abroad, even for a full semester, and graduate in four years with a genetics and genomics major. The information below will help in your planning and conversations with your genetics advisor. For more information on the genetics and genomics major, visit the Department of Genetics website. To connect with an advisor, visit the Department of Genetics’ Advising Information page. Even if you’re not ready to declare the Genetics and Genomics major yet, you are encouraged to meet with the academic advisor to discuss and plan for possible study abroad opportunities in the future.
To gain background information about study abroad and the various programs available, attend the Study Abroad Fair on campus, visit the Program Search, and/or meet with CALS Study Abroad Advisors.
To discuss how studying abroad fits within your career or professional goals in relation to the completion of the Genetics and Genomics major, please visit the CALS Career Services webpage to schedule an appointment with a CALS Career Advisor.
Genetics Course Considerations Abroad
CALS students need to keep in mind that they may be required to graduate when their requirements are complete –if you’re studying abroad in your final semester and will have more than 120 credits before then, it’s critical to save a CALS or major requirement, such as humanities, social science, or the Genetics Capstone, for your final semester. Beyond that, there are no requirements for taking certain numbers of courses or credits here on campus versus while studying abroad, and it’s certainly possible to graduate while abroad.
It can be challenging to fulfill core science requirements abroad for the genetics and genomics major, as core courses such as calculus, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, introductory biology, and the capstone requirement may not have direct equivalents or be taught in the same sequence as courses at UW-Madison. The most likely courses genetics students could take abroad to fulfill requirements are:
- breadth courses (social sciences, humanities, CALS International Studies requirement)
- advanced Genetics elective courses (for those who took CHEM 109 and Zoo 151/152 or BIOCORE 381/382 and 383/384)
- independent research (Genetics 299 or 699, must be specifically genetics research approved by the department).
If a course does not match one of the Genetics courses offered at UW-Madison, the department may still be able to grant general Genetics study abroad credit, which could be used to fulfill major requirements based on the discretion of your academic advisor.
Students participating in summer, winter, or spring break programs, including field, global health, or research-based experiences, often do not need to be as concerned with fulfilling particular requirements or course equivalencies.
If graduating in four years is very important, creating a four-year plan where your study abroad semester consists of electives or non-science breadth requirements can help, so that if necessary, you have leeway to complete all your major coursework on campus. Taking core science courses in summer (such as organic chemistry, or biochemistry, which are regularly offered) can help you fit in a semester abroad without having semesters of major-heavy coursework before or after going abroad.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Genetics and Genomics Major
Freshman year is a good time to focus on your core foundation courses – namely calculus and chemistry. Some students study abroad during winter, spring, or summer break, especially if they are part of a FIG (First Year Interest Group) that has a study abroad component.
Sophomore year can be a good time to study abroad, especially if your foundational coursework is completed early – for example, if you took Chemistry 109 and started Chem 343 freshman year, or if you have AP credit for Bio 151 and only need to take 152 here. Summer, winter, or spring break programs are also great options.
Junior year is a popular time for many students to study abroad. However, genetics and genomics majors will often take Genetics 467 and 468 their junior year if they are here on campus. 467 is a fall-only course and 468 is a spring-only course, so it can be difficult to do this sequence if you are off-campus for a semester. Many students who study abroad will choose to take Genetics 466 during one of the semesters of their junior year and then a Subset 1 genetics elective, instead of taking Genetics 467/468. Depending on the study abroad program, you may be able to take Genetics 466 or a Subset 1 genetics elective while abroad, and/or one or two Subset 2 courses. Alternatively, students could take Genetics 467 fall of junior year, study abroad in spring, and then take Genetics 468 spring of senior year. However, doing this will require instructor consent to enroll in the Subset 1 genetics electives courses, as the pre-requisite for many of them is Genetics 468. Summer, winter, or spring break programs are also great options and will not affect course sequencing.
Fall of senior year can be an ideal time to study abroad, if you are not in the midst of applying to medical school or graduate school for immediate acceptance after graduation. Studying abroad fall of senior year allows you to take Genetics 467/468 as a junior, and then take the core senior year courses in spring of senior year. Studying abroad spring of senior year can be difficult for CALS students if you do not have any requirements remaining, as CALS policy is that students can be graduated if all requirements are met. Sometimes students save a requirement they are very sure to find abroad (such as humanities, social science, or even an advanced genetics course if they identify a program that will definitely have such a course) for spring of senior year if they’d like to study abroad then.
*For students participating in Biocore*
Biocore is an honors level introductory biology sequencing spanning four semesters – typically all of sophomore and junior year. It is possible to study abroad during one of those semesters, but students will need to pick up the remaining semesters/years of Biocore when they return. For example, a student may study abroad during junior year, and then take the junior year Biocore courses as a senior. This can cause course conflicts with some of the required genetics courses in senior year, however. Studying abroad during winter, spring, or summer break can be a great alternative for Biocore students, or during fall of senior year. Talking with your advisor will be essential to studying abroad as a sophomore or junior while participating in Biocore.
Questions to Ask
Your Academic Advisor
- What classes must I complete for my degree (breadth/depth, major requirements, etc.)?
- Which courses are likely to be found abroad for my major/degree? Which will I likely have to take here at UW-Madison?
- How do my other goals (summer research experiences, attending medical or professional school, taking a gap year vs. applying right away) fit in with my coursework and timeline for studying abroad? When would be the best time(s) to go abroad?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- When will I know course equivalents for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
- What are my post-graduation plans (medical school, graduate school, work, etc.?)
- Do I intend to pursue any post-undergraduate education right away or take time off? This may influence when you take certain standardized tests, when you need to take certain prerequisite courses, and when study abroad is most feasible.
- What are my priorities for my undergraduate education – is it graduating in 4 years, studying abroad for a semester, completing multiple majors/certificates, being able to attend medical school right away? Which of these are most important if it becomes difficult to fit everything in?
Identifying Programs That are Right for You
The following are study abroad programs that may be of interest to students pursuing the Genetics and Genomics major. The programs below have various durations and have courses that may count for electives or requirements for the Genetics and Genomics major. If you do not have specific requirements you need to fulfill, you will have much more flexibility as to program type and location.
Courses that offer Major Requirements or Electives
China, Hong Kong / Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Exchange
England, Cambridge / UW SCORE Cambridge International Research
England, Oxford / UW SCORE Oxford International Research
England, Leeds / University of Leeds Exchange
Germany, Heidelberg / UW SUPER-G International Research
Germany, Stuttgart / University of Hohenheim Exchange
Ireland, Galway: IFSA National University Ireland, Galway
Ireland, Dublin: Trinity Dublin College Exchange
Netherlands, Wageningen / Wageningen University Exchange
Wales, Cardiff / Cardiff University
Sweden, Multiple / Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Exchange
Latin America and Caribbean
Costa Rica, Multiple: UW Banking Animal Biodiversity in Costa Rica
Mexico, Queretaro / ITESM-Queretaro Exchange
Trinidad and Tobago, St. Augustine: University of West Indies Exchange
Australia, Brisbane / University of Queensland Exchange
Australia, Cairns & Townsville / James Cook University
New Zealand, Multiple: Massey University Exchange
Other programs to consider
The following programs may not offer courses specific to the major, but may offer opportunities that fit within your professional goals or compliment your learning within genetics.
Ghana, Multiple / UW Ghanaian Health and Food Systems: Human, Agricultural, and Environmental Health*
Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam / UW Health, Education, and Tanzanian Culture*
Uganda, Mukono / UW Mobile Clinics and Health Care in Uganda*
Uganda, Multiple / UW Agriculture, Health, and Nutrition in Uganda*
Nepal, Kathmandu / UW Global Health, Community Health and Health Disparity in Nepal*
Thailand, Bangkok / UW Microbiology International Internships*
Thailand, Chiang Mai / UW Microbiology and Public Health in Northern Thailand*
Sri Lanka, Multiple: UW Global Health, Community Health, and Asset-Based Community Development*
Denmark, Copenhagen / DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia
Austria, Vienna / UW Obesity and Health in Austria*
Programs with Public/Global Health-Related Experiences
These opportunities may not necessarily fulfill major or degree requirements, but they may be of interest to those interested in public health, medicine, or other health fields, and often occur during summer, winter, or spring breaks. These programs often involve out-of-classroom experiences such as service learning, site visits, and connecting with members and groups in the community. The programs indicated above with an asterisk (*) indicates that they meet the Global Health Field Experience Requirement for the Global Health Certificate. You can find additional public/global health-related programs on the Program Search.
Lab-based internships in university or private settings (check out the International Internship Program)
Studying something completely different and focusing on your science coursework while at UW-Madison (use the Program Search to identify programs by region, country, language of instruction, duration, or subjects taught) – there are many programs that may not be science or health care-related but may complement your studies by practicing a language, learning about another culture or region, or earning credit towards an additional major or certificate.