Learning Abroad for International Relations Majors
A year or semester of study abroad is an important component of the IR 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 IR 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 MHC or the Five Colleges and are important to a student’s focus within the major;
• preparation for researching and writing a senior thesis.
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.
All students are encouraged to consider, in consultation with their advisor, how study abroad could further their educational goals in the IR Program. They should also discuss their plans with the staff of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
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 data base. 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.
All courses related to international relations taken abroad and successfully transferred for college credit are eligible to be used toward the IR major. Since no substitutions are allowed for the required courses in the major (20 credits) or for the 12 credits at the 300 level, a maximum of 8 credits may be transferred from abroad. 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 her advisor before enrolling in it. Upon completion of study abroad, she should complete the course approval form and submit it to her advisor for approval. Without this form, courses taken abroad will not be applied toward the student’s major.
Summer Internships and Research Abroad
Internships and research projects abroad also provide 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. Information on foreign internship opportunities is available from the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
Students may apply for the MHC International Internship Program, and they also have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. Support for unpaid opportunities is available through the Universal Application Funding (UAF), which offers students access to funding from a variety of College fellowship sources to cover travel and living expenses for the duration of the project. Students with a family contribution of less than $5000 may also receive a $500 grant to apply towards their summer earnings contribution. Both the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and the Career Development Center have student evaluations of past international internships on file.