Learning Abroad for Chemistry Majors
The chemical enterprise provides a dramatic example of the global reach of modern science and technology. Chemistry majors benefit enormously from a learning experience abroad, whether it directly relates to the chemical sciences, or fits more generally with their overall academic program.
-- Darren Hamilton
Where to Study:
The Chemistry Department encourages students to think broadly about their goals for study abroad in choosing a host destination. For example: do you wish to study in a language other than English? In recent years chemistry majors have studied in France and Germany. Perhaps you are interested in non-traditional, English-speaking locations such as South Africa or Hong Kong, or you would prefer to target an institution in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom
For a list of where past and present chemistry 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:
It is of vital importance that students plan their schedule according to whether they intend to take any chemistry courses while they are studying abroad. Almost no planning hurdle is insurmountable, as long as students consult with their advisor and, where necessary the department chair, to address these issues ahead of time
Chemistry majors interested in studying abroad for a single semester will generally find the spring of their junior year or fall of their senior year to be the best options. The latter option would allow a chemistry major to complete the two required 300-level physical chemistry courses in sequence during her junior year and may open up the possibility of enrolling in more advanced courses abroad. The junior year spring semester option will introduce a break in the standard sequencing, but such situations are quite common and easily accommodated with good advance planning.
As a general rule nearly all elective offerings at foreign institutions for which students meet the prerequisites will be accepted for 200 or 300-level credit toward the major. Core courses are frequently difficult ones for which to locate a match elsewhere. Therefore, a useful planning guideline is to look for courses abroad that meet the elective requirements of the major, and to take physical and experimental chemistry requirements on campus.
Summer Internships and Research Abroad
An international summer internship or research project is a good way for chemistry majors to apply and develop their skills and explore possible careers paths while engaging with cultures and perspectives outside the United States. Further, those chemistry majors involved in significant research collaborations with faculty may find a summer internship to be the best fit with their plans for their time at the college. A number of faculty members also have collaborations with colleagues abroad. A summer spent with a collaborator may therefore achieve the twin goals of providing a valuable experience abroad, as well as allowing a student to move her research efforts forward in a new and interesting manner
Many funded summer research opportunities are available to chemistry majors. The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation, offers programs for undergraduate research both abroad and in the U.S. The DAAD RISE program also offers funded summer research opportunities in Germany for students in the sciences
Students 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.