Learning Abroad for Psychology and Educational Studies Majors
The Psychology and Education Department encourages its majors to seek out learning opportunities abroad and will strive to provide support to accommodate a summer, single semester, or year, abroad. Learning abroad may provide unique study and/or research opportunities that will greatly expand a student’s understanding of, and engagement with, psychology and education. Alternatively, a period abroad may also be used as a hiatus from the major, providing time to explore other elements of a student’s liberal arts education before returning to the major. In either case, by immersing themselves in another culture and engaging with unfamiliar perspectives, students will develop skills and competencies for careers and citizenship in a global world.
Studying psychology and education in different countries is a wonderful way to learn about cultural influences on different psychological phenomena such as children’s development, definitions of learning and cognition, interpretation and treatment of mental illness, and family and group relationships. Students interested in education gain many new perspectives by working in schools in other countries. Studying abroad is a compelling learning experience – one that illuminates and challenges assumptions about every aspect of human life and learning – that enables students to see psychological processes and educational endeavors in new and expanded ways.
Where to Study:
The Psychology and Education 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, psychology and education majors have studied in France, Denmark, Senegal, Kenya, Austria, India, Italy, Spain 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 psychology and psychology and education 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 keep departmental requirements in mind when planning to study 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.
Psychology majors interested in studying abroad for a single semester will generally find the fall or spring of junior year to be the best options. We highly recommend that you take Psych 201 and 200 before you go in order to open the option of enrolling in more advanced courses abroad. However, it is sometimes difficult to find appropriate 300-level labs, so we recommend that you plan on taking them before you go (if you are going in the spring semester) or after you return.
Psychology and Education majors who wish to pursue a teaching license while at Mount Holyoke either through Option I of the Psychology and Education Major or the Minor in Education can also complete a study abroad experience. Students should contact Ms. Sarah Frenette (the Five College Teacher Licensure Coordinator) as early as possible (preferably before sophomore year) in order to discuss options for study abroad that will also enable them to complete requirements for the major, the minor, and teacher licensure.
As a general rule nearly all elective offerings at foreign institutions for which students meet the prerequisites will be accepted for 200-level credit toward the majors. 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 Statistics, Research Methods, and 300-level courses on campus. Students who would like to take a psychology course to meet a distribution requirement should get pre-approval from the department.
Summer Internships and Research Abroad
An international summer internship or research project is a good way for psychology and psychology and education majors to apply and develop their skills and explore possible career paths while engaging with cultures and perspectives outside the United States. Those 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.
Students 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.