Satisfying VCU’s Relevant, Experiential, and Applied Learning (REAL) Graduation Requirement Through Education Abroad:
Education Abroad programming provides meaningful experiential learning opportunities for all VCU students to develop and grow as global learners through creating connections for students with other cultures, communities, and ways of living, thinking, and learning. Study abroad helps to advance the REAL mission of giving students high impact, hands on, real world experience that will benefit them academically, personally, and professionally.
Students wishing to fulfill the VCU REAL degree requirement through studying abroad may do so through one of the following three options:
- Enroll in a VCU credit-bearing faculty-led program that offers a 300-level (or higher) VCU course that has received REAL classification with a REAL attribute of Level 2, 3, or 4 or
- Enroll in a VCU faculty-led program (for VCU credit or transfer credit) and concurrently enroll in REAL 399 (for 0-3 credits). The VCU study abroad faculty program leader would serve as instructor of record for REAL 399. Or
- Participate in a non-VCU credit, non-faculty-led study abroad program and successfully complete VCU Education Abroad’s REAL Co-Curricular Program (see more information below)
VCU Education Abroad’s REAL Co-Curricular Program >
Students who participate in non-faculty-led programs (such as semester exchange programs, external programs, internships abroad, virtual international internships, and other program types) may fulfill the VCU REAL degree requirement by successfully completing a series of intentionally engaging, reflective activities to engage in a critical awareness of one’s learning abroad/global learning experience. Students must self-identify to their Education Abroad Adviser via email during the pre-departure phase that they plan to use their Education Abroad program to fulfill their REAL graduation requirement. Students will then complete all of the following requirements which may occur at different phases of the global learning experience:
- Prospective phase: Prospective study abroad applicants engage 1:1 with an education abroad adviser to receive initial advising and consultation on goals for studying abroad, academic, personal, and professional goals, program options, funding options, timeline to apply and participate, and other relevant details to begin planning the education abroad experience.
- Application process: With the help of their education abroad adviser, students will identify a target program, and complete an application to participate in which they will complete a reflective essay detailing personal/academic/professional goals for their time abroad.
- Pre-departure/pre-participation orientation (pre-departure is for students traveling abroad, pre-participation is for students participating in virtual opportunities): Students are required to participate in an orientation program prior to their program departure/commencement that provides group discussion, reflection, and sharing. Students will also complete a global learning assessment tool at this point.
- Throughout the program: Students will continue to receive guidance and mentorship throughout their program from Education Abroad staff and program leaders/coordinators on-site. Mid-term, students will be asked to provide evidence of reflective activities done through their host university or program provider, or can complete a reflective prompt through the Education Abroad office that focuses on how students are achieving their previously stated goals for the education abroad experience. Students will be asked to meet virtually with their adviser at the midpoint of their program to discuss progress towards their goals and reflect on the experience thus far.
- Returnee orientation and counseling: Students will engage in 1:1 and group discussion, reflection, and sharing about their time abroad. They will complete individual journaling and reflection activities, as well as completion of a post-experience global learning assessment tool.
Students may download the Education Abroad REAL Co-Curricular Program Rubric to review required tasks and assessment plans.