There are quite a few things to consider when selecting a study abroad program. With more than 260 programs available, getting started might feel a little overwhelming. Watch the Study Abroad 101 video below and then follow these steps to focus your search.
We have created the Introduction to Study Abroad Canvas course just for you! This non-credit course has different modules to answer your common questions related to study abroad.
Expectations for Study Abroad Participants
Making the most of your study abroad experience starts with selecting a program that’s appropriate for you, and continues as you complete your program and return to the US.
UW-Madison study abroad programs complement and enhance on-campus learning at UW-Madison. Because every program has unique learning objectives, it’s important for you to consider how each program can help you meet your specific goals.
No matter what program you choose, all UW-Madison study abroad offerings are designed to help students meet a core of common goals. Keep these in mind as you select a program, prepare for departure and complete your program:
- Learn about and from the community in which you live and study
- Apply all you’ve learned abroad to your life at UW-Madison and beyond
- Serve as a cultural and academic ambassador of UW-Madison
- Prepare for success in a globalized, interconnected world
- Articulate how your experience abroad enriches your life & helps you meet your goals
- Increase independence, adaptability and flexibility
- Understand and navigate cultural and geographic differences
- Cultivate and reflect on personal values and assumptions
Identify Your Goals
When researching study abroad programs, it is important to consider the goals you have for your time abroad. Our staff can help you prepare for studying abroad and provide resources and tools to assist you in identifying a program that aligns with those goals.
- What am I looking to accomplish academically while I’m abroad?
- What subject areas do I want to study?
- Do I need to fulfill any academic requirements abroad?
- Does this program allow me to stay on track for (or accelerate) graduation?
- Do I want to take classes in English or the language of my host country?
It’s important to start thinking about the classes you will need to take both prior to studying abroad and while you are there. Before you select a program, meet with your academic advisor to go over any questions you may have about your UW-Madison requirements.
Learn more about studying abroad and your academics.
For major specific resources, check out our Major Advising Pages (MAPS).
- How might my experience abroad impact my career and professional development?
- Can I gain experience abroad that will be useful for my resume and/or graduate school applications?
- What skills can I develop abroad that are important to my intended field?
Study abroad is great to highlight on your resume and may open doors to graduate schools or set you apart from other job candidates. Whether you plan to eventually work domestically or abroad, it is important to develop both technical and “soft” skills necessary for success in a global workforce.
- Why do I want to go abroad?
- Are there historical or current events that may impact your experience?
- Do you want to explore family history?
Consider the Program Structure
When researching programs, be aware that program structure can vary. In some programs, students directly enroll as international students at a local university. Other programs allow students to live and study primarily with UW-Madison students. Consider what program type would work best for you.
- Do I want to take classes with local students in my host country?
- Would I like to study abroad with a group of UW-Madison students and/or a UW-Madison faculty member/instructor?
- How long do I want to go abroad? Spring break, winter break, summer? One semester, a full academic, or calendar year?
- Do I want to complete an academic internship or fieldwork abroad?
- Do I want to be in a classroom or have a field experience?
Our programs vary widely in cost. Sometimes studying abroad is no more expensive than studying on-campus. When considering funding your program, ask yourself:
- How do I plan to cover all of the costs associated with my study abroad program?
- Have I submitted a FAFSA application?
- What scholarships, loans, or grants do I already have that can be used for study abroad?
- What additional scholarships, loans, or grants might I be able to receive to use for study abroad?
- Have I checked out the study abroad funding resources online?
Consider the Location
- What country or region of the world appeals most to me?
- Do I want to study in my home country? Do I want to explore my family’s heritage?
- Would I rather live in a bigger city or a more rural location?
- What type of housing do I prefer? Host family, residence hall, apartment, or something else?
Excited to get started? We hope so! Explore our website and check out the program pages to find out more information on eligibility, program dates, application deadlines, academics and financial information.
Then, visit the Study Abroad Resource Center – our returned students and professional advising staff are always eager to assist in your program search! Learn more about our advising process and how to make appointments.
Studying abroad can help you gain the skills, knowledge, and intercultural understanding necessary to build a more sustainable future, but may also have significant environmental, economic, and social impacts along the way. When selecting a program, consider the following:
- Does my program offer classes or activities that focus on sustainability?
- What is the carbon footprint of my travel to and from my program? Is there a program that will allow me to meet my study abroad goals that may have a smaller carbon footprint?
- Visit the Office of Sustainability’s Travel, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Carbon Offsets page to calculate your travel’s carbon footprint based on program location.
- Can I live with a host family, sharing space and resources as well as culture?
Want to learn more? Visit our Sustainability page for best practices for a more sustainable study abroad experience!