Study Abroad

A group of men blowing alphorns in Switzerland


The Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) program encourages HSSP majors and minors to engage in study abroad programs. Each year, approximately one third of HSSP students participate in such programs. While some HSSP students do not take health-related courses abroad, others go abroad to expand their perspectives on health and health care, as well as cultural differences in understandings of health, illness, and well-being. Many programs offer a health-related internship and field experience components that engage students in experiential learning and fulfill the HSSP hands-on-experience (HOE) requirement. In recent years, HSSP students have gone to Chile, Denmark, England, Geneva, India, South Africa, Spain, and numerous other countries for their life-enriching study abroad experiences.

Quick Links:

Explore Pre-approved HSSP Courses abroad

If you are interested in exploring our Study Abroad options:

  1. Review "Get Started".

  2. Speak with an Office of Study Abroad advisor.

  3. Once you have decided on which program(s) to apply to (see this Sample of Approved Programs), then decide whether or not you plan to seek HSSP credit for any health-related courses that you take while abroad.  To explore over 100 pre-approved health-related courses, see this HSSP List of Pre-Approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses.   New courses will be added from time to time.

  4. Review the steps on earning HSSP credit while abroad.
  5. Carefully review the following FAQS about receiving HSSP credit for any courses or HOE taken during a Study Abroad.

Note:  Our Study Abroad Liaison’s role is to review, and, if appropriate: provide “written pre-approval” of health course work, including HOE, for HSSP credit.

Plan ahead the Office of Study Abroad and HSSP’s Study Abroad Liaison can be very busy in January and February.


Before contacting the HSSP SAL with questions, please review the following FAQs as well as this flow chart.

Can I receive HSSP credit for courses taken abroad?

Yes, HSSP majors may receive credit for up to two courses and HSSP minors may receive credit for one course, provided that the course is closely related to HSSP courses. Some majors choose to avail themselves of health-related internships and field experiences to fulfill the HSSP hands-on-experience (HOE) requirement. With few exceptions (see FAQ 3 below), such outside courses may only fulfill HSSP electives, the HOE, and/or Additional Basic Science requirements.

 When choosing courses for HSSP credit:

  • See HSSP List of  Pre-Approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses (“List”).

  • If you are interested in petitioning for approval of a course that is not on this List, keep in mind that courses taken abroad don’t have to be identical to current HSSP courses; courses may be thematically similar. Therefore, the best strategy is for you to look for courses that fit in the three HSSP Focal Areas (health-related courses relating to Science, Society, or Policy).

    • Courses must have at least 50% health-focused content to count for HSSP.

    • HOE internships must be health-related.

Look for courses that are different from the Brandeis courses that you have already taken (or intend to take). For example, you should not take HSSP 102A - Global Perspectives on Health at Brandeis as well as a course abroad that is similar. In addition, if you've taken (or plan to take) BIOL 42A - Physiology, then you should not take physiology while abroad.

Who do I need to contact to about receiving HSSP credit? What approvals are needed?

You will need to work with both the Office of Study Abroad (OSA) as well as the HSSP Program.

  • Before going abroad: If you are a HSSP major/minor who wants HSSP credit for your study abroad work, after meeting with the Office of Study Abroad, you must seek written pre-approval from the HSSP Program the semester prior to going abroad.  See the Flow Chart.

  • After returning from abroad: Follow the OSA's Returning to Brandeis checklist, including attending their Re-Entry Workshop.

May I take any core HSSP courses abroad?

We encourage students to complete most, if not all, of their core Science, Society, and Policy courses before going abroad. In general, study abroad courses only fulfill HSSP electives, the HOE, and Additional Basic Science Course requirements. Other than the HOE, the only core courses that can be completed abroad are the following:

  • The DIS Epidemiology: Danish Case Studies or Epidemiology: Swedish Case Studies can substitute for HSSP 100b; and

  • Students may petition for a human physiology course taken elsewhere (US or abroad) in place of BIOL 42a - Physiology; such petitions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Is it possible to fulfill the HSSP Hands-On Experience (HOE) Requirement on a study abroad program?

Majors have many study abroad options for fulfilling the HOE requirement: You can do a health-related internship, a health-related research project, or take a study abroad course that has an experiential component. If your HOE is a part of your study abroad program, then you don’t need to take HSSP 89a - Internship Seminar.

If you plan to look for a health-related internship when you arrive, you will still need written pre-approval for that particular HOE. Importantly, when you arrive on site and identify an opportunity, notify the HSSP Internship Instructor in writing as soon as possible; your failure to do so may result in not receiving HOE credit. Upon your return to Brandeis you will need to petition HSSP for final approval.  

What does “written pre-approval” from the HSSP mean? And, is an HSSP signature required on the OSA’s Academic Proposal of Study form?

HSSP’s “written pre-approval” of OSA’s Academic Proposal of Study form means that you have presented a written plan of study that enables you to complete your HSSP major/minor. Importantly, the HSSP “written pre-approval” is not a guarantee that your course credits will transfer over for HSSP credit or that a particular internship or independent research project will fulfill the HSSP HOE requirements.  After you successfully complete the course(s)/HOE, you will need to petition for the credits to transfer (see FAQ titled "Who do I need to contact to about receiving HSSP credit? What approvals are needed?").

Yes. The OSA requires a written signature. After submitting this course approval form, or confirming your courses are already on the HSSP List of Pre-Approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses, you may obtain HSSP’s written signature on your OSA’s Academic Proposal of Study from Kathryn Howell during her Study Abroad Office Hours or from Prof. Curi at the OSA’s Study Abroad Extravaganza.

What if a course I have written pre-approval for is no longer available/appropriate when I get to my Study Abroad location?

We understand that you may change your mind about what courses to take and/or the courses you hoped to take are no longer available or have changed. For example, because a change in the syllabus, a course that may initially appear to be appropriate for Focal Area C may only qualify for Focal Area B.

If your plans change for any reason, send the HSSP SAL an email with the syllabi for the new course option(s) you are considering as soon as possible at or before the start of the semester; your failure to do so may result in not receiving final approval of those credits.

Is there a minimum grade I need to earn to get HSSP credit?

To receive HSSP course credit for courses taken abroad, you must earn at least a C-.

Is there a list of courses that are already Pre-Approved for HSSP credit?
Yes.   There are over 150 courses that are pre-approved for HSSP credit:  see our  HSSP List of Pre-Approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses.  New courses are added from time to time.
Can I take a seek approval health-related course that is not on the HSSP List of Pre-approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses?
Yes.  If a course that you are interested in is NOT on the HSSP List of Pre-Approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses, and the course is health-related, before you take the course, you may submit this course approval form.  Because HSSP faculty need time to review this form, please submit it at least a week before any deadline. 
If approved, it will be added to this List.

Sample of Approved Programs with Health-Related Coursework

Visit the Brandeis Approved Programs List to review a comprehensive list of programs that offer health-related HSSP coursework. Click on "Advanced Search" to find programs with HOE options.  To explore over 100 health-related study abroad courses, see the HSSP List of  Pre-Approved Health-related Study Abroad Courses. New courses will be added from time to time.

Study Abroad Liaison

To assist students with their academic choices abroad, and to help answer any questions about receiving major/ minor credit while abroad, each academic department and program has assigned a faculty member to serve as the study abroad liaison.

The liaison for HSSP is Prof. Sarah Curi.

Receiving Credit in HSSP

Before going abroad:  review the following FAQS about Meeting with the HSSP Study Abroad Liaison (SAL) and receiving HSSP credit for any courses or HOE taken during a Study Abroad.After returning from abroad,  follow the the Office of Study Abroad's Returning to Brandeis checklist, including attending their Re-Entry Workshop.  

o obtain HSSP credit of any course for which you received HSSP's “written pre-approval”:  complete the Registrar's online Petition to Request Substitution for a Requirement form.