Study Abroad

Why Should I Study Abroad?

What better way to investigate sociological concepts than by making yourself a stranger in a new land? Everything is novel and the rules for social interaction are yet to be learned. Teaching and learning is different. Eating, traveling, and recreation are different. Clothes, language, food, stores, religious practices, industry—the things you’ve come to expect as “normal” are suddenly out of the ordinary when placed in a new context.  But studying abroad isn’t just exciting; it’s important for understanding the increasingly global world in which we live, work, love, and interact.

The UMass Sociology Department strongly encourages and supports our majors to study abroad for at least one semester during their time at UMASS. But students often think that study abroad is not a luxury they can afford—financially, time-wise, or because of course requirements.

What if I can’t afford it?

One of the greatest concerns our majors have expressed is the cost of studying abroad. Fortunately, the International Programs Office has identified several exchange programs that cost about the same as a typical semester at UMass Amherst (and may be less expensive if you are an out of state student.) There are also options for studying abroad in the summer, during winter break, or on spring break.

It is also typical that the financial aid available to students for on-campus courses can be applied toward their program abroad, however you must check with a financial aid counselor to see how studying abroad will affect your financial aid package.

In addition, we would encourage you to apply for Study Abroad awards through SBS and inquire at IPO about other award or scholarship programs available to UMass students.

What if I have too many requirements to fulfill?

Before applying to study abroad, Sociology majors should meet with one of the academic advisors to go over requirements and, if possible, create a strategy that will allow you to use abroad courses to fulfill general education, global education, major, minor or certificate requirements.

Sociology majors have successfully applied a variety of sociology courses to major requirements. Occasionally, a program will not have a specific sociology program or courses on offer at which point a Sociology Academic Advisor will work with you to determine whether courses from other international departments have significant sociological content and can be approved toward major course requirements.

A total of five courses from outside of the UMass Sociology department can be used to fulfill major requirements. Students often find that many of the courses in which they are interested while abroad can move them successfully toward graduation.

What if I don’t have a lot of time because of work/ athletics?

It is true that taking time to travel abroad can interrupt regular work or athletic pursuits and may not work for everyone. Students must make a determination about what they are willing to trade for an experience abroad and, understandably, sometimes the cost is just too high. If time away from home, work, or a sport is a concern, you might consider participating in a shorter winter, summer, or spring break program. Or discuss your options with your academic or a study abroad advisor—you might be surprised at the possibilities.

Want to investigate your options further? Take the first step.