The Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Department strongly 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. Study 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 twenty first century leadership in the field of education. Having international academic experiences also contributes to personal growth and self-awareness, qualities that are at the heart of education and excellence in teaching.
Prospective Special Education Students
Students considering Special Education should be in close contact with an advisor in Education Academic Services and/or the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention 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.
Best times to study abroad
Students who are working on a four-year graduation plan who would like to study abroad during the academic year should consider spring sophomore year or fall senior year as the best semesters to study abroad. Any summer is also an excellent choice for study abroad, and International Academic Programs (IAP) also offers some winter intersession programs. Most Special Education students who study abroad choose fall of senior year because the professional program courses can be moved to earlier semesters to accommodate study abroad in that semester. Special Education is a two-year professional program; therefore, the fall semester of the senior year is the only time declared majors can study abroad. Other than fall semester of senior year, it is not possible to break the professional program to study abroad.
Prior to Special Education program application (completed in the spring of sophomore year), you must take RPSE 300 Introduction to Individuals with Disabilities, 3 cr. It is also recommended that you take education course requirements in Educational Psychology and Educational Policy Studies prior to beginning the professional program (i.e., during freshman and sophomore years) if you plan to study abroad during the professional program in fall of senior year.
Upon program admission in February or March, students who plan to study abroad should meet with the RPSE Department Student Services Coordinator to map out their professional program in relation to their study abroad plan. Students who choose to study abroad in summer generally do not need any program adjustments. Declared Special Education majors often can study abroad fall of their senior as long as they are working closely with their advisor and the department. Students who wish to spend the fall semester of their senior abroad will need to take professional program courses planned for senior year during fall of junior year and during the summer between junior and senior year in order to stay aligned with their professional program sequence. Students studying abroad in fall senior year will take RPSE 515 Access to the General Curriculum for Students with Disabilities, 3 cr., in fall junior year, and RPSE 475/485 Special Education Practicum in summer of junior year.
Course Considerations Abroad
Often, students take courses in the Liberal Studies during study abroad. 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. Students generally do not take required Special Education courses during their study abroad experience.
While some study abroad programs have a focus on education, it is not essential for Special Education students to choose a study abroad program with a focus on education. Special Education students choose from among hundreds of programs based on where they are interested in studying and what type of international experience interests them.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Special Education Major
- Take RPSE 300, liberal studies and elective courses
- Explore academic interests broadly
- Explore the many study abroad programs available; watch Study Abroad 101; visit IAP; visit the study abroad fair
- Meet with advisors to discuss study abroad interests and get application information if applying for spring semester sophomore year
- Take required educational psychology and educational policy studies courses
- If studying abroad spring semester of sophomore year, make sure you have applied for your program through IAP
- Apply to the Special Education professional program
- Decide whether you want to do a summer, winter intersession, or fall senior year study abroad experience
- Meet with advisors to discuss study abroad interests; upon program admission, meet with RPSE Student Services Coordinator to map study abroad in relation to the Special Education professional program
- Begin the Special Education professional program with program adjustments if you plan to study abroad fall senior year
- Fall Junior year courses: RPSE 330, 3 cr., RPSE 465, 3 cr., RPSE 506, 3 cr., RPSE 515, 3 cr. (if you plan to study abroad in fall senior year – otherwise, this course is taken fall senior year). One additional ED PSYCH course is also required this semester (ED PSYCH 310; ED PSYCH 321 with PSYCH 460; ED PSYCH 320 with ED PSYCH 321).
- Spring Junior year courses: RPSE 464, 3 cr., RPSE 473, 3 cr., Curric 365, 3 cr., Curric 374, 5 cr.
- Summer Junior year courses: RPSE 475/485, 3 cr. (if you plan to study abroad in fall senior year – otherwise, this course is taken fall senior year).
Summer study abroad: take liberal studies and elective courses
- Fall: Study abroad if this is semester you planned – take liberal studies and elective courses
- Fall: If you are not studying abroad this semester, take: RPSE 466, 3 cr., and RPSE 475/476, 3 cr, RPSE 515, ED PSYCH 301. Choose one Education Policy course (EPS 300 or EPS 412).
- Spring: RPSE 467/468, 2 cr., RPSE 477/478, 10 cr. (student teaching), RPSE 472, 3 cr.
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?
- When will I know course equivalents 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
Consider programs that are a good fit for your interests and what you want to get out of your international experience. Special Education students may choose to study in virtually any study abroad program! Some students choose programs with a focus on education or programs that have an opportunity for interaction with children. Others choose their program because they have an interest in a particular country/language. Below is a sampling of programs that have been of interest to education students in the past. The institutions on this list offer relevant coursework to Special Education majors, or they offer internship/experiential learning opportunities that will allow you to connect your program of study to the local community. This is not an exhaustive list. Please explore all of your many options with IAP and find the program that fits your interests best!
Australia: Macquarie University Exchange
Australia: Monash University Exchange
Colombia: UW Conflict, Human Rights and Education in Colombia
Denmark: Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
Japan: Waseda University Exchange
Netherlands: University of Amsterdam Exchange
Scotland: University of Glasgow Exchange
Senegal: UMN MSID International Development in Senegal
South Africa: SIT Community Health and Social Policy
Tanzania: UW Health, Education, and Tanzanian Culture
United Kingdom: University of Leeds Exchange