With so many options, choosing a study abroad program can feel overwhelming at first. Read below for more information on how to outline your goals for study abroad and choose a program that is right for you.
Before you get started on your program search, watch our OSA Website Tutorial to learn some tips about how to find programs, or watch our Study Abroad 101 video for all the basics in five minutes!
As you begin the process of researching available programs and setting up an initial advising appointment, a good place to start is to think about your goals for the semester, summer, or year abroad. Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself to help outline your goals and find a program to match them:
Another way to narrow your program search is to consider which program model best fits your academic and personal goals for your semester abroad. The study abroad programs on Newcomb-Tulane College's list of approved programs generally conform to one of three program models. Some programs offer the opportunity for students to directly enroll at a host institution and require a high degree of independence. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some programs are structured as cohorts wherein study abroad students take classes with each other at a study center rather than at a local university. Alternatively, hybrid programs combine direct enrollment with study abroad provider support. You can filter for programs using our advanced search based on model: Direct Enrollment, Cohort/Island, or Hybrid.
Direct enrollment is in many ways the “classic” model of study abroad. Direct enrollment programs offer students the opportunity to study at an overseas institution alongside local degree-seeking students. Students rely on the host university's international students office, are taught by host country faculty, and should be eager to participate in all aspects of foreign university life. Generally, direct enrollment programs also offer students the greatest choice when selecting courses, although students should be aware that universities overseas may or may not permit cross-enrollment in more than one or two academic departments. Direct enrollment programs may offer a variety of housing situations from homestays to university residence halls to apartments.
Direct enrollment programs can be deeply rewarding, and intensely immersive, but also challenging. To succeed students must possess adequate language proficiency and cultural adaptability, and be committed to fully embracing the diverse educational and cultural practices that have been developed in universities around the world. Independent, academically motivated students may gravitate toward direct enroll options.
Students studying on cohort programs (sometimes also referred to as "island" programs) will take courses at a study center with other study abroad students, typically also from the U.S. These programs are staffed by professionals dedicated to assisting students with academic and practical matters, and also to facilitating cultural immersion through excursions and housing arrangements. Often, a set curriculum is offered exclusively for study abroad students. Instructors are host country nationals or on-site program staff, and offer courses either in English or the language of the host country. While potentially less immersive than a direct enrollment experience, cohort programs allow students without advanced language background and students who may benefit from additional on-site support the opportunity to study abroad. These programs also benefit from greater flexibility to develop a thematic curriculum closely aligned with evolving global issues and student interests. Public health, human rights, ecology, film studies, and international development are just a few examples of the themes developed by cohort programs.
Hybrid programs combine the characteristics of direct enrollment and cohort program models. Hybrid programs offer students an opportunity to create a program of study combining one or more local university courses taken alongside host country students with supplemental courses taught exclusively for study abroad students at a study center. Housing may be offered with a host family, in a university residence hall, or an apartment. As with direct enrollment programs, language proficiency may be required on hybrid programs, particularly if students wish to take courses at a local university. However, students who are less confident in their language abilities often appreciate the additional assistance offered by on-site staff as well as the balance of more familiar cohort courses.
While locale determines to a great extent what is available, housing arrangements play a key role in your integration into a host culture. Exploring available housing options and how they support your goals is another great way to determine which program is right for you.
Living with host country nationals provides constant exposure to the country’s customs, culture, language, and daily life. If foreign language proficiency is your principal objective for study abroad, living with native speakers of that language should be a priority. Students living in homestays may be treated as a family member or merely a boarder depending on the individual host and, of course, the preference of the student. Before moving into a home, students should discuss with the family their expectations, as well as policies on guests, coming and going, cleaning, laundry, keys, facilities, meal hours and kitchen privileges, and any other household expectations. While living with a host family can seem intimidating at first and students may be reluctant to give up their sense of independence by choosing this living arrangement, in many cultures it is normal for young adults to continue living in the family home throughout university and even into adulthood. While it depends on location and the individual family, you may find that host families abroad are more understanding and flexible regarding student independence than you might anticipate. If you are interested in living with a host family but are still unsure, make an appointment to speak with a study abroad advisor! All of our advisors have lived with host families during their own time abroad and are happy to share their own experiences, tips, and stories.
While living with a host family is the most immersive housing option, some students may feel more comfortable living in student residences or dorm-style university housing. Tulane students are generally assigned rooms with other study abroad participants or with other visiting international students from around the world. Students interested in living with another Tulane student should speak to their program provider directly, although depending on the program this may not always be possible. In some cases, Tulane students room with or share common areas with host country students, providing greater opportunities for language immersion and cultural exchange.
Some programs may require or offer students the option to find and rent a local apartment for the duration of their time abroad. This is common for many direct enroll and exchange programs in major cities where the idea of a traditional college "campus" in the American sense is not common and where older, historic institutions do not have on-campus dormitories allocated for students. Talking to returned students and checking the website of your host university for housing guides and suggestions are good places to start conducting your housing search.
While some programs require or offer students the option of finding their own housing, others do not. Students on programs that do not offer independent apartments as a housing option will need to seek permission from both their program and the NTC Office of Study Abroad. Students who choose to opt out of program housing and seek independent housing arrangements will also be required to sign a housing waiver through our office, and may be asked to do so through their provider as well. In general, opting out of program housing to seek an independent apartment is not recommended as it is usually more expensive (students will be responsible for paying and arranging utilities and may need to sign a lease that extends beyond their program dates as many landlords may refuse to rent for only 3-4 month periods) and can be a risk, particularly if students have not seen the residence prior to moving in. Some host country visa applications require proof of housing for the duration of the program which could mean renting an apartment sight unseen--OSA does not recommend this. If possible, students who are approved to seek independent housing arrangements should endeavor to inspect the apartment in person prior to signing a lease.
Many of the study abroad programs approved by Tulane University are language immersion programs. These programs are designed for students who have completed between two and six semesters of a language and would like to continue that coursework abroad in an immersion environment. Where possible, students may also directly enroll at a foreign institution and take courses in another language right alongside local students. Students can use our advanced search feature to filter programs by language of instruction, as well as by required language pre-requisites.
You probably want to find a program where you can take major or minor courses that enhance what you are already doing at Tulane. Good news! The major search function allows you to find your major and pull up a list of programs that offer coursework in your field. If you search by major, keep in mind that you are not restricted to only those programs displayed--these are simply examples of programs that have historically fit well with a particular major. You can always talk to a study abroad advisor or bring a list of proposed courses from another approved program not displayed on the major search results to your department for approval. This search option provides a great jumping off point to discover programs that offer your major courses. Always make sure to visit the course listing page of the program provider or host university website to see a full, up to date list of courses offered in a given semester. If you don't see your major listed, or can't find a program based on your major, send an email to our office!
In addition to the major/minor search tool, student can reference departmental major guides that offer insight into individual department's policies on credit transfer and pre-approved programs. Not every department has a set major guide for study abroad, but if you have questions about credit transfer within a major or minor, the best place to start your research is within your major or minor department. Some departments, like Communications, have a designated faculty member who handles study abroad course transfer. Others do not, and approval is given by the major or minor advisor. If you are confused about who to speak to, check your department's major guide or reach out to your assigned major advisor to get started.
Historically, study abroad has been known as JYA, or junior year abroad, a time when students spend an entire academic year on an international program. While study abroad for a full year has many, many benefits, it’s not always a feasible option. Your on-campus commitments to such activities as student government, Greek life, sports, or community service may prevent you from being able to go abroad for a full year. Have no fear, the Office of Study Abroad offers programs for fall or spring only, as well as short-term summer programs! You can use our advanced search tool to narrow programs by semester, year, or summer.
Most Tulane students study abroad during the fall semester of their Junior year, but that doesn't mean you have to! Students may choose to study abroad the summer of their Freshman year, spring Junior year, even the spring of their Senior year at Tulane. Some students may even decide to study abroad in one location during one semester and another location the next--almost anything is possible, just ask your Study Abroad Advisor!
Most programs that are offered for the semester are also available as academic year. A few programs are only available as yearlong options due to their course structure. Check the program brochure on our website for information on available terms.