The Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Department encourages you to consider a study abroad experience as part of your undergraduate education. International experiences help to broaden perspectives and provide greater understanding about the ways that culture, socialization, and language shape our experiences and world views. Studying abroad also helps you develop skills in navigating varied cultural and social contexts, understanding ideas from multiple perspectives, and developing critical thinking, communication and cultural competencies that are essential for leadership in the field of education. Having international academic experiences contributes to personal growth and self-awareness, qualities that are at the heart of education and excellence in teaching.
Information for Prospective Majors
The Undergraduate Special Education major is a 2-year, four-semester, teacher preparation program completed during your junior and senior year. Major requirements, and scope and sequence of the program, can be found here. Students are encouraged to fulfill their general education requirements prior to starting their Special Education major. This is also an ideal time for you to complete a semester or year abroad, a shorter-term faculty-led program, or a domestic or international internship.
While many students choose to study abroad while completing their general education requirements, it is still possible to study abroad during the two year teacher preparation program. Faculty-led short-term programs run in the summer and winter terms making participating more feasible.
Some students are interested in studying abroad during their junior year, which is typically when Special Education students are starting their two-year teacher preparation program. Students interested in this option should seek advising in their first year to discuss the feasibility of this option.
Students considering Special Education should be in close contact with an academic advisor in the School of Education Student Services as early as possible to map out when the best time to study abroad may be and to coordinate course selection prior to and during study abroad.
Major Course Considerations Abroad
The courses for your Special Education major are designed to meet state and institutional requirements, and so it is unlikely that courses taken abroad will count towards your major requirements. For that reason, it is recommended that you consider using your study abroad experiences to meet your general education requirements prior to joining the Special Education teacher preparation program. Common requirements taken abroad include: literature, fine arts, other humanities courses including language courses, social studies, U.S./European history, global perspectives, liberal studies electives, and general electives.
Working with an academic advisor in the School of Education can help you determine how your study abroad experience can help you fulfill your general education requirements.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Special Education Major
During the four academic semesters (Fall and Spring) of your Special Education major, you are not able to study abroad. You are, however, able to participate in winter intercession programs or study abroad opportunities that take place during the summer between your junior and senior year.
Many students in the Special Education program take advantage of the School of Education’s Teacher Pledge Program. This program pays the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees for students in the teacher preparation programs who pledge to teach in Wisconsin for 3- 4 years after graduation. If you are in the Teacher Pledge Program, the costs for study abroad while you are in the Special Education teacher preparation program are included in your financial coverage.
Questions to ask
Your Academic Advisor
- What classes must I complete for my degree (liberal studies, general education, major requirements, etc.)?
- When may be the best time for me to study abroad?
- How many electives do I have outside of my major and liberal studies/general education requirements?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What may be some programs that fit with my interests?
- What are the costs associated with study abroad?
- How does financial aid work when studying abroad?
- What scholarships are available for studying abroad?
- What are the factors that may influence which program I choose given that there are so many choices for programs that allow me to take liberal studies and electives?
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
- How do programs differ in the types of intercultural opportunities or living situations offered?
Identifying Programs that are right for you
In general, there are two lengths of study abroad programs for you to consider. The first is a full-semester or year program, which must be taken prior to entering the teacher certification program. The second is a shorter-term program offered during the summer or winter intersession terms. Consider programs that are a good fit for your interests and what you want to get out of your international experience. Students majoring in Special Education may choose to study in virtually any study abroad program!
Below is a sampling of programs that have been of interest to education students in the past. This is not an exhaustive list. Please explore all of your many options to find the program that fits your interests best!
Short-Term Summer Options
Colombia: UW Conflict, Human Rights and Education in Colombia
Cuba: UW Exploring Cuba through Art
Ecuador: UW Education, Diversity and Community in the Galapagos Islands
Tanzania: UW Health, Education, & Tanzanian Culture
Thailand: UW Hmong Studies in Thailand
Immersive Full Semester or Year-Long Programs
These may allow you to live with a host family, or have opportunities for you to participate in internships.
Argentina: CIEE Summer Community Public Health
China: CIEE Sustainable Development
Ghana: CIEE in Ghana
Jordan: SIT Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action
Nepal: SIT Development, Gender, and Social Change in the Himalaya
South Africa: SIT Community Health and Social Policy
Full Semester or Year-Long Programs
These programs allow you to enroll in courses at a host university in a more traditional destination alongside local students (or in some cases with a group of US students).These programs typically do not provide the opportunity for community internships or to live with a local host family.
Australia: Monash University Exchange
Denmark: DIS Copenhagen
England: University of Leeds Exchange
France: UW in Paris
Netherlands: University of Amsterdam Exchange
Japan: Waseda University Exchange
Scotland: University of Glasgow Exchange
Sweden: DIS Stockholm