Study abroad is widely recognized for adding value to one’s education — offering new perspectives on global issues, expanding research methodologies, building new relationships and networks, and in some cases, cultivating language skills. International experience can also provide a competitive edge in the job market or in applications for graduate school. For many students, study abroad influences and intersects with their professional and scholarly ambitions, directing their career paths.
The School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) values Local and Global Engagement and Social Justice; our undergraduate learning objectives emphasize Critical and Creative Thinking and Diversity and Equity. In this context, how one studies abroad is as important, if not more so, than where one studies abroad.
Pedagogically, IAS focuses on a critical approach to study abroad, one that highlights how questions of diversity, equity, and social justice play out when one is studying, traveling, and working abroad.
UW Study Abroad offers hundreds of study abroad and internship options to all UW students. Before choosing to study abroad, students should consider what they are looking for in a program and hope to gain from the experience. When examining programs, Matt Sparke, a leading scholar in Geography and International Studies, poses the following critical questions:
- Tourism: Is the program functioning like a vacation with associated dangers of objectifying poor communities while undermining student safety with unsupervised entertainment-seeking behavior?
- Escapism: To what degree does the program encourage students to treat the foreign base, hotel, or NGO compound as an escape from having to live with and learn from local communities?
- Opportunism: Are the organizers of the program making money or a name for themselves with the programming?
- Careerism: In what ways does the program present itself as a CV-burnishing and self-improvement opportunity?
For more on critical approaches to studying abroad, we suggest reading American Sentimentalism and the Production of Global Citizens by Ron Krabill, Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Bothell.
You can familiarize yourself with your options for studying abroad on the Study Abroad Programs at a Glance webpage. You can search for study abroad programs by location, type, focus, or quarter on the Find a Program webpage. For more in-depth advising on Program Options, set an appointment with UW Bothell Global Initiatives.
- Begin early! Recruitment and application deadlines for study abroad programs occur several months before the actual experience.
- When searching for Exploration Seminars, select the term: “Early Fall”.
- Consider programs which complement the course sequence of your program.
Most UW study abroad programs are offered at the undergraduate level; however, many are open to graduate student participation.
Graduate students should check with their graduate program advisor to make sure that their study abroad credits can be counted towards their degree. As with any other experiential learning opportunity, we recommend approaching the instructor or program director to discern whether the program of study aligns with your learning and professional goals.
Financial aid and scholarships are available for most study abroad experiences. Read Financing Study Abroad to learn more about options. Consult with a UW Bothell Global Initiatives first about how to approach financing your study abroad, before talking with your UW Bothell financial aid advisor.
The University of Washington Bothell Global Scholars Program engages students from diverse backgrounds in global learning experiences near or far. Over the course of a year, students examine global themes and prepare for “study away” opportunities which can include study abroad or US-based internships that focus on global-facing issues.
The School of IAS sponsors the Global Scholars Program, but all undergraduate students from any major may apply to join.