Study Abroad

First Steps

Identify Interests and Needs

As you begin to plan for study abroad, it is important to think about your own academic and personal goals. There are several different questions you need to consider as you plan for a study abroad experience.

What are my academic goals for the term abroad?

  • Do I want to take classes in my major(s)?  For my minor(s)? For Elon Core Curriculum requirements?
  • Do I want to begin or continue to study a language?
  • Do I want to complete an internship while abroad?

What are some of my cultural interests?

  • Do I want to study in a specific country or region?
  • Do I want to study with local students? Elon students? International students?
  • Do I want to live in a large city? In a small town? In a rural area?
  • Do I want to live with other students in a residence hall? With a local family? In an apartment?

Are there other features I would like on a study abroad program?

  • Do I want to participate in service learning or volunteer work while abroad?
  • Do I want to have the support of an Elon faculty while abroad?
  • Do I want to be on a program with a very high level of support services? Or a more independent program?

Are there any special needs to consider when selecting a program and planning to study abroad?

  • Do I have a medical, psychological or medical condition for which I will need treatment or medication while abroad?
  • Do I have special dietary needs?
  • Will I be able to get adequate accommodations for my disability(ies) abroad?

Some helpful information for planning for health and diet needs can be found on the Pre-departure Health and Safety Information page.

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Set Goals

As you answer these and other questions about your own interests, you will be able to set some goals about the type of program(s) you would like to explore. It is important for these goals to be somewhat flexible -- identify the most important aspects of your goals as opposed to expendable conditions.

Some Examples of Goals:

  • I would like to study on a program where I can take courses in my major and study Spanish. I would like to live with other Elon students. The most important things to me are completing courses in my major and becoming more proficient in Spanish. If programs that will provide these opportunities do not have an option for me to live with other Elon students, I am willing to be flexible and consider a homestay or residence with local students.

  • I am very interested in service and would love to be able to participate in a service-learning program abroad. I would like to live with Elon students and would want to have the support of an Elon faculty member while abroad. It would be great if I could satisfy a requirement in my major, but it is not necessary. 

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Meet With Your Academic Advisor

Be sure to mention your study abroad plans to your academic advisor. Any time you are discussing your major(s) or minor(s), planning courses, or mapping out a four-year plan, make sure that you are keeping your study abroad plans in mind. This is especially important if you plan to spend a semester or academic year abroad. Create a plan that allows for flexibility and changes in course offerings. It is important to note that some semester study abroad programs' calendars will conflict with the Winter Term at Elon. You may not be able to take a Winter Term class right before going abroad for the spring and should plan accordingly when creating a four-year plan.

Some important questions to consider as you discuss your study abroad plans with your advisor:

What requirements do I plan to complete while abroad in order to graduate on time?  How much flexibility do I have with my course selection?

Think about what courses you would like to, or need to complete while abroad. This can include courses in your major(s), in your minor(s), and Elon Core Curriculum requirements. Determine whether there are any specific Elon course(s) or requirement(s) that only fit into your schedule the term you plan to study abroad. Consider whether you have room to take any free electives during the term abroad.

What prerequisites will I need to take at Elon before going abroad?

If you plan to take upper-level courses in your major while abroad, be sure that you will be able to complete the necessary prerequisites at Elon beforehand.

How many semester hours do I have to complete while abroad in order to graduate on time?

Students are able to earn between four and twenty semester hours of Elon credit while abroad. The minimum amount of hours required and the maximum number of hours allowed will vary. Determine the minimum number of semester hours of coursework you would need to complete while abroad to be able to stay on track for your progression toward graduation.

What courses are being offered on the programs in which I am interested?  Which ones seem, based on the course descriptions, to be a good fit for the course(s) I need to take?

As you begin to research programs and narrow down your choices, course availability may be a very important component in your final program selection. Additional information about course equivalents for many semester and summer study abroad programs are available available through the GEC website (Elon password required).  

The Study Abroad Course Guide and Plan Sheets may aid you in planning your study abroad program during your career at Elon.

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Research Programs

Once you have identified your interests, set some goals, and discussed your plans with your academic advisor, you are ready to research the different programs and determine which ones will best meet your needs and interests. As you review the information for each program, consider all aspects of the program as you begin to decide whether it might be right for you: courses, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, language of instruction, geographical location, setting (urban, rural, etc.), housing, cost, GPA, and other requirements. You can also search by these various criteria in the Advanced Search.

Read all the information on the program page and click on the various links to host institutions, course listings, and other resources. Many of the programs have links to Facebook groups for the programs. This is a great way to connect with other students who have been or are currently on the program. Getting in touch with these students is a helpful first step in taking an inside look at the program.

Global Ambassadors are also available to speak with your about their study abroad experiences planning process. It is often helpful to speak with a Global Ambassador who has the same major as you. Even if you are not interested in the specific study abroad program in which the Global Ambassador participated, you may find it helpful to discuss how he or she planned to complete courses before, during, and after the term abroad.

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Meet With Someone in the GEC

In addition to Global Engagement Workshops, staff in the GEC are available to meet with students to answer questions about specific programs. Come to our Quick Questions drop-in hours in Global Commons 360:

Quick Questions Drop-in Hours -- Every Week

  • Wednesday: 2:00-4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00-11:00 AM

No appointment necessary - stop by at any time within these hours.

You can also call (336) 278-6700 or stop by Global Commons 360 to schedule an appointment. In order to make the most of your advising appointment with a member of the GEC staff, it is recommended that you complete the steps outlined above before scheduling your appointment. In preparation for your appointment, write down questions you have and gather any planning forms (four-year plans, major checksheets, degree audit, etc.) that may help clarify and provide context for your study abroad and undergraduate goals.

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Housing Plans at Elon

If you are planning to study abroad for a semester it is very important to be aware of policies and procedures for Elon housing, including year-long leases. Familiarize yourself with the information regarding Elon Housing Arrangements Before and After Study Abroad.

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