Frequently Asked Questions
Although it is never too early to begin planning your study abroad experience, we encourage everyone to remain flexible about the process. Initial steps include researching destinations and programs, comparing academic and residential options, and investigating scholarship possibilities. Most students planning to study abroad the fall or spring of their junior year will begin seriously researching at the start of their sophomore year. Students with stricter major requirements are encouraged to begin as early as their first year. Check the calendar of events for this year's internal Brandeis University deadlines or consult a study abroad staff member for advice on planning.
Choosing a program can sometimes seem like a daunting task as there are many options to pick from. No two programs will meet the same set of needs, so our office aims to provide you with guidance and appropriate suggestions about the many study abroad options that Brandeis approves. The Choosing a Program page has a lot of tips to help you get started and then meeting with a member of the study abroad staff or a study abroad ambassador can help you begin the process of focusing your academic and personal goals while simultaneously helping you narrow your selection to a few programs. Brandeis has an Approved Program List for off-campus study. If you are seeking a program or country currently not on the list, please schedule an appointment to speak with a member of the study abroad staff about your goals and options.
After completing the first steps, you can make an appointment with an advisor to speak more about programs of interest. In addition to advisors and this website, the programs will have more detailed information about specific programs of interest. You can also contact the program directly to speak with one of their advisors.
The Office of Study Abroad hosts a study abroad fair each fall and many other programs throughout the year (see the calendar of events for details). The fair is also a great opportunity to learn about the many options to study abroad and to meet representatives from overseas institutions and programs.
You should aim to study abroad for either one or two semesters of your junior year. It is also possible to study abroad during the summer and the first semester of your senior year. Study abroad cannot be your final semester at Brandeis.
We strongly encourage you to consider the option of studying abroad for a full academic year. By spending nine or ten months in another country you will become more integrated in the local scene and improve your knowledge of the language and culture.
If you plan to study abroad for one semester, we encourage you to consider the fall semester. Many study abroad programs have fewer students in the fall. Fewer students means less competition for the best internship, or research and field placements. Also, going abroad in the fall means you can be back on campus in the spring which is the prime season to interview for summer internships.
If you plan to study below the equator (i.e. in Australia, South Africa or South America) we encourage you to begin your year or semester away in the spring. That way, your study abroad experience will coincide with the academic calendar of your host country.
The full academic year will likely be the least competitive option. We strongly encourage you to consider the option of studying abroad for a full academic year. By spending nine or ten months in another country you will become more integrated in the local scene and improve your knowledge of the language and culture.
Please note, if you wish to apply for one semester, you will be asked to list your preferred semester (fall or spring), as well to provide a rationale for your preference. While every attempt will be made to honor each applicant’s preference, we also must help the university achieve some balance between the number of students on campus during the fall and spring semesters. The on-campus academic program (especially in terms of course enrollments), housing, and student activities are undermined if the semesters are not balanced.
The fall semester is frequently less competitive than spring, and there are many good reasons to spend fall semester abroad.
Yes! You can:
- Speak with a Study Abroad Ambassador: The Study Abroad Ambassadors are a great resource for students. They plan programs, help in the office, offer peer advising during their office hours, and are available to be contacted by e-mail as well. Check out this year's ambassadors and stop by their drop-in hours to learn more about their experiences.
- Contact a Brandeis Returnee: This list consists of Brandeis returnee students' names, e-mails, programs, program locations, and majors/minors. You can view this list and contact any of the students on it to ask about their program. Please be respectful when contacting these students as they've volunteered to be contacted.
- Ask friends and connect through word of mouth.
- Ask an advisor to put you in tough with a returnee.
- Reach out to the program to ask if they can connect you with a returning student.
ABSOLUTELY! With good planning and the right program overseas, many pre-health and natural science majors find a way to study abroad for at least a semester and often for the full year. Check the Pre-Health page for more detailed information and meeting with an advisor during your first-year is always encouraged.
Spending a full academic year in one location allows for the greatest integration and maximizes learning opportunities. Splitting two semesters abroad in two separate locations can be a logistical challenge but is possible in many cases. Pairing a summer and semester abroad (in one location or two) is a viable option, and a great method of gaining knowledge of different languages and cultures. Please meet with an advisor if you're considering any of these options.
In addition to English-speaking countries such as Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom, please note that our approved program list includes many programs where the language of instruction is English even if English is not the official state language. For example, you can choose from programs taught in English in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Kenya, The Netherlands, Vietnam, and many others!
No, but at least one of your classes must always be taken for a letter grade in the host country's language. The course can be a language instruction course (i.e., Foreign Language Level I) or you can take an advanced content-based course (i.e., History of Your Host Country taught in Host Country's Language). Prior to leaving campus, all students studying abroad in a French, Italian, German, Spanish or Hebrew speaking country must have completed a minimum of two semesters of college level instruction in the respective languages (or the equivalent). There are no exceptions to the foreign language policy and students who plan to study in these languages are encouraged to take as many courses as possible before they apply to study in that language. Programs may also have different requirements.
As long as you complete the second semester of language before departure, this will not affect your Brandeis application but you may be granted provisional approval pending your completion of the second semester.
You should always check with your program for specific eligibility criteria, but generally speaking, this will not be an issue as long as you complete the third semester before your departure to study abroad.
The Brandeis eligibility requirements for study abroad state that a student’s GPA be at least a 3.0 at the time of application. If you have concerns about this requirement, please plan to meet with a study abroad staff member. Students should also note that there is no minimum GPA for summer study abroad.
Accommodation is a key area to research when you are comparing different programs. Generally, the options range from family homestays, dormitory living, or sharing an apartment with either foreign students or other Americans on your program. We encourage you to talk with students who have experience with the different options in order to decide what housing is best for you.
We anticipate housing to be available during the spring semester. Spaces become available for spring semester because of seniors who graduate in December and from students who go abroad for spring semester. Find out more on the Department of Community Living website.
If you indicate your intent to study abroad in the spring, you will participate in a special room selection process for fall-only housing. The spaces that are vacated at the end of fall semester will be assigned to incoming midyear students and students returning from studying abroad in the fall. Find out more on the Department of Community Living website.