Choosing a Program
There are many reasons to choose a study abroad program and given the number of approved programs, you should expect this process to take some time. We recommend you review this page and the following resources when compiling your research on study abroad programs.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Program
Below is a list of things to consider when researching and choosing a study abroad program, followed by some reasons not to consider. If you feel lost or need guidance when researching your programs, please make an appointment with an advisor to talk over your options.
You may want to study subjects similar to what you're studying at Brandeis, or hope to fulfill major/minor requirements. Study abroad can also be a good time to take elective courses and pursue academic interests outside your major/minor. Think about what you expect from your study abroad program and research whether programs offer courses in subjects you need or want to take. To learn more about how your program/department considers study abroad, visit the Majors/Minors section of our website.
Brandeis University has specific eligibility requirements for semester/year study abroad. You must meet these requirements as well as the eligibility requirements listed on your program's website. Please review both to ensure that you'll be accepted by Brandeis as well as your program. There are no Brandeis eligibility requirements for summer study abroad.
Each program will list their housing/board costs on their website. They will also list an estimated budget. Keep these numbers in mind when you're selecting programs. Sometimes the more popular locations cost more or the cost of living is higher. If you receive financial aid, working with your SFS advisor can also help give you a sense of how your aid will work while abroad.
There is no better way to learn or advance in a language than by being fully immersed in that language. Students who study abroad in a non-English speaking location make leaps and bounds in their language skills by the time they return to Brandeis. In this more globally-connected world, language skills are more sought after by employers than ever.
Study abroad can be an opportunity to explore your family's heritage. Many students consider locations where their family may have originated from as a location to consider. This can allow for a great connection to family and for an opportunity to research family lineage first-hand.
Please review the Types of Programs page, as it gives you a general idea of the academic setup of particular programs. Keep in mind your learning style and what you expect from a classroom experience abroad.
One of the main purposes for study abroad is to immerse yourself in a new culture. Try to think outside the box and explore some locations you know nothing about. You might be surprised what you find and your level of interest in locations you haven't thought about before.
Whether you're enrolling directly in a university or participating in a study center program, each will offer varying level of services. Review the programs' websites to find out what kinds of resources, excursions and cultural connections exist. Is there an orientation? Are there group trips? Do they have tutors? Can you connect with local culture? Programs can range from low support meaning you can have a really independent experience to high support where you are with staff and faculty often.
Considering factors like academic accommodations, physical accommodations, religious observances, or identities could play a role in where you choose to study abroad as this may look similar or different to your life at Brandeis. If you have concerns about how a program may meet any needs while abroad, please work with the Office of Study Abroad.
What Not to Consider When Choosing a Program
Below are some of these suggested reasons not to choose a study abroad program.
Each study abroad program and location is different and not a perfect fit for everyone. It's best to look for a program that works for you, not someone else.
Similar to the previous statement, programs change every year and your reasons and goals for studying abroad are likely not exactly the same as someone who went there previously.
Study abroad is an academic pursuit. Your grades do matter and will affect your academic and professional goals. You'll have fun no matter where you go, but picking a program based on that will likely lead to disappointment.
Internship sites are never guaranteed, so you shouldn't select a specific program based on a specific site. But you should select a program based on the types of internships they offer in a field that is interesting to you.
Knowing another language is an important skill and gives you an important lens into the culture of your new host country. We recommend having as much language study as possible prior to studying abroad, especially if you are taking courses in the local language. There are also many locations where you don't need prior experience in the language but all students studying in a non-English speaking country are required to take a language course.
While traveling in Europe can be a great experience, there are many unique locations outside of Europe that offer a lot to explore. Try not to think in terms of how many countries you can cross of your list. Think instead about how many unique experiences you can have in any place.
While there are many prestigious institutions in the United Kingdom and other locations, graduate schools and employers are often looking for individuals with unique or diverse experiences. They are also interested in knowing that you can operate in a new culture and can handle transitions well. The best way to prove that is to go somewhere off the beaten path.
There are a range of program options in non-English speaking countries where you can take your courses in English (except for the required language course!). Examples include Bhutan, China, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and more.
Resources to utilize when choosing a program:
Abroad 101 Evaluations
Brandeis University partners with www.Abroad101.com to host all returnee student evaluations of approved study abroad programs. This resource allows you to search evaluations of your Brandeis peers as well as other students from across the United States.
Speak with Returnees
Speaking with a program returnee can be very helpful to get feedback about the programs you're interested in; it allows you to ask those detailed questions that only someone who participated in a program can answer. However, please always keep in mind that someone else's experience will not be the same as your experience. There are a number of ways you can connect with returnees:
- Study Abroad Ambassadors: 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 email as well.
- Brandeis' Returnee Contact List: This list consists of Brandeis returnee students' names, email addresses, 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 have volunteered to be contacted.
- Does your program(s) of interest have a returnee database or alumni program? Reach out to the program to ask if they can connect you.
Using the Approved Programs List
The Office of Study Abroad manages an approved programs list for students to assist with searching for appropriate study abroad programs. Please use the advanced search options and program pages to learn more about each program.
Meeting with Office of Study Abroad Staff
Every student is required to meet with a study abroad staff member. During this meeting you'll discuss your interests and goals for abroad as well as discuss various program options.
A Note About Traveling
Travel can be an important part of the study abroad experience, but it shouldn't be your primary goal. Brandeis' philosophy for study abroad emphasizes immersion in a single host country, in order to maximize cultural, linguistic, and academic integration and understanding. If you want to travel extensively, you should plan to do so before or after your study abroad term.