Learning Abroad for International Relations Majors

"At Mount Holyoke, we hope students gain understanding of pressing international challenges. By studying abroad, we hope they gain something else: empathy. Both are essential to a liberal education." — Sohail Hashmi

Study Abroad

A year or semester of study abroad is an important component of the International Relations major. Study abroad furthers the central mission of the program to educate global citizens and leaders, not just in the classroom but in the world at large. More concretely, study abroad is valuable to International Relations majors because it allows:

• first-hand experience of different cultures, values, histories, and political and economic systems;
• continuation of language study begun at Mount Holyoke, perhaps in an intensive program;
• coursework in specialized fields that may not be available at Mount Holyoke or the Five Colleges and are important to a student’s focus within the major;
• preparation for researching and writing a senior thesis.

All students are encouraged to consider, in consultation with their advisor, how study abroad could further their educational goals in the International Relations major. They should also discuss their plans with the staff of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives Study Abroad website is also an excellent resource for programs, application procedures, deadlines, financial aid, and more. Laurel Fellowships (need-based financial aid) are readily available to qualified students.

Where to Study
IR majors should choose a location or program that fits well with their focus and interests within the major. For a list of where past and present IR majors have studied and a summary of the courses that they took abroad, check this searchable database. Note that this is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource.

When to Study
Most students study abroad during the junior year, but some students study abroad in their sophomore year or first semester of senior year. Students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to discuss their proposed academic program with their major advisor or with the chair of the Department and to speak with the staff in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

Credit Transfer
All courses related to international relations taken abroad and successfully transferred for college credit are eligible to be used toward the IR major; but a maximum of 8 credits may count for the major, only 4 of which can be at the 300-level, and no substitutions are allowed for the required core courses. If a student wants to count a course as a 300-level course for the major, they must bring back the syllabus and demonstrate that the course had a significant writing component; the course number alone is not sufficient. Language courses do not count for the major unless they are advanced courses on a topic related to the student’s focus. If in doubt about a course’s appropriateness, the student should consult their advisor before enrolling in it. Upon completion of study abroad, the student should complete the course approval form and submit it to their advisor for their signature. Without this form, courses taken abroad will not be applied toward the student’s major.

Summer Internships and Research Abroad

A summer internship or research project abroad provides valuable international exposure and education. They allow for extended residence in a foreign country and offer work and learning experiences that enrich the student’s formal program of study.

Students may apply for the MHC International Internship Program, and they also have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. Students have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project.

  • Funding is available through the Lynk Universal Application Form (UAF). For more details about internship opportunities and funding, please contact Kirk Lange, Director of International Experiential learning at the McCulloch Center.

Next Steps

Students interested in exploring possibilities for learning abroad are encouraged to contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. April Stroud is the primary advisor for study abroad, and Kirk Lange can offer guidance on internships or research abroad. Students should also consult with their advisor about how they can best connect and integrate learning abroad with their work in the major.