Many study abroad programs run by the UW are directed at undergraduate students. There are very few grad-only programs, though most programs are open to graduate students. As with any undergraduate course, it is always worth approaching the instructor - or program director - to establish how open they are to having graduate students in their study abroad program. This may require that students undertake additional academic work so the credits earned meet a graduate-level standard. Keep in mind that entry into a study abroad program is overseen by individual program directors and is usually competitive so, if possible, begin the process early.
Cultural Studies and Policy Studies graduate students are welcome to participate in UW-sponsored and non-UW study abroad programs and may receive elective credits. Current elective course numbers include:
Cultural Studies - BCULST 596: Study Abroad (5-15, max. 15)*
Policy Studies - BPOLST 598: Directed Research (1-5, max. 15)*
*The Cultural Studies and Policy Studies programs require that students complete at least 10 of their required elective credits in BCULST or BPOLST courses, excluding Study Abroad and Directed Research.
Why Study Abroad? Benefits and Critiques
Study abroad is widely recognized for adding value to education including cultivating language skills, gaining new perspectives on global issues, expanding research methodologies, and building new relationships and networks. International experience can also provide an advantage in the competitive job market. Graduate students have fewer international options than undergrads, however their experiences are often more closely and deeply linked to their career paths and therefore more applicable to their future.
There are many benefits to studying abroad, academically, professionally, and personally, but there are also critiques. Before choosing to study abroad, students should ask themselves what they are looking for in a program and what they hope to gain from the experience. Examining the ethics behind education abroad experiences is an important step to take prior to beginning any type of field study. Matt Sparke of the University of Washington's Department of Global Health suggests asking the following 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?
To learn more about critiques of study abroad, take a moment to read American Sentimentalism and the Production of Global Citizens by Ron Krabill, Associate Dean for Graduate Education at UW Bothell and Associate Professor in the Cultural Studies program.
Appropriate program options for graduate students include:
Exploration Seminars are short-term study abroad programs (3-4 weeks) led by UW faculty that take place during the gap period between the end of Summer quarter and beginning of Autumn quarter. Students earn five credits which are applied to Autumn quarter. Exploration Seminars are well-suited for students who want coursework in specific areas of study; a short study abroad experience that does not conflict with the UW academic calendar; desire some on-site support; and have limited or no foreign language background. Most Exploration Seminars are open to undergraduate and graduate students on all three UW campuses. Graduate students may be asked to complete additional assignments to meet graduate-level rigor.
Students participating in Exploration Seminars pay a program fee that covers tuition and many expenses (lodging, some meals, field trips, program overhead, etc.). Because the program fee covers five credits of tuition, a student’s Autumn tuition bill will not include those credits. Seminar options for Autumn of the following year are advertised during December and January, and applications are typically due in February and March.
The UW has an affiliation with IE3, an internship organization operated through the Oregon University System. Internships are available in a variety of non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and private organizations around the world. Host organizations provide supervision and logistical support for students in the host country. Many internships require foreign language proficiency, though numerous English language internships are available.
Independent Learning is an option for qualified graduate students seeking UW credit for international activities that do not align with other study abroad program models. These activities include independent research, internships, practicums, or employment as a TA on a UW Study Abroad Program. To be considered for Independent Learning you must first meet with a UW Study Abroad Adviser to discuss your proposal and the application requirements. Students applying for the independent research option must meet these Standards for Approving Independent Learning.
For more in-depth information regarding Program Options, set an advising appointment with UWB Global Initiatives.
With your advisor’s approval, search for study abroad programs by visiting the UW Study Abroad program search site. Please note: If you are interested in Exploration Seminars, choose “Early Fall” under “Term.”
Notify the Graduate Office and consult with your faculty advisor (Cultural Studies: one’s Portfolio Advisor; Policy Studies: the Academic Director) about your desire to participate in study abroad and its relationship to your academic and professional goals.
Consider programs which complement the course sequence of your program. Students find the summer period between the first and second year to be most conducive.
Apply for programs. Once accepted to a program, notify the Graduate Office and your faculty advisor to begin processing appropriate paperwork.
Financial aid and scholarships are available for most study abroad experiences. Read Financing Study Abroad to learn more about options. Consulting with a UWB financial aid advisor about your particular financial aid situation is also recommended.