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Graduate Students

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Can graduate students study abroad?  The short answer is yes, but there are some limits and rules to follow. This page outlines what a graduate student needs to know about studying abroad. It is imperative that graduate students interested in education abroad discuss and seek guidance and approval from 1) GEO, 2) their faculty adviser and 3) the VCU Graduate School.  

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the current VCU international travel restrictions. Check out the FAQs on our Navigating COVID-19 Abroad page for more guidance on planning study abroad amidst the continued uncertainties of global travel.

Program types

  1. Faculty-led short-term programs with credit at the graduate level, typically offered in summer, and usually offered with VCU credit as opposed to transfer credit. Students should discuss with their academic advisers whether study abroad credit from another unit within VCU is applicable towards their degree program. Faculty-led programs vary from year to year, so please refer to the Education Abroad website for the most current list of faculty-led program offerings.  
    1. Examples of summer faculty-led programs that have offered graduate credit in the past:
      1. School of Business, International Consulting Program (various destinations) 
      2. Wilder School, Urban Planning, Germany Transatlantic Development Seminar (Dr. John Accordino) URSP 691 for 3 credits
      3. School of Education, Bridging Gaps in Behavioral Health in Ghana (Dr. Kaprea Johnson) EDUS 651 for 1, 2, or 3 credits
      4. School of the Arts, Interior Design, Italian Craft and Design in Florence, Italy (Emily Smith and Hillary Fayle) IDES 692 for 1-6 credits
      5. Wilder School, Criminal Justice, A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Harm Reduction Approaches in the Netherlands and the US (Dr. Amy Cook) CRJS 591 for 3 credits
      6. College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Psychology, Zambia: Service-Learning in Education and Mental Health (Dr. Zewe Serpell) PSYC 691 for 1-3 credits
  2. Semester exchange programs* (only offered for a limited number of departments)
    1. Graduate students don’t typically study abroad for a whole semester since that would constitute almost ¼ of their entire degree program (in the case of a master's program).  However, there are some graduate degree programs that would allow a full semester abroad, such as the master's in Urban Planning program in the Wilder School which has a semester exchange program at Bauhaus University in Germany.  
  3. Direct enrollment programs* (enroll in a short-term or semester length study abroad program offered by another US institution or enroll directly at a foreign institution as a visiting international student) Talking to faculty and your academic adviser may provide insight into reputable study abroad programs offered by other institutions in which VCU participants are welcomed.
  4. Research abroad and international independent study experiences (with approval from your academic adviser, earn VCU credit in your degree through an independent experience abroad) These tailor-made experiences can vary greatly in terms of length, structure, and content. 

Funding opportunities

  1. VCU Education Abroad’s website contains an entire section on funding opportunities including how to use financial aid towards the costs of a study abroad experience, and information on VCU scholarships (including GEO’s airfare voucher program) and external/nationally-competitive funding opportunities.   
  2. VCU’s National Scholarship Office (NSO), located within VCU’s Honors College, is an excellent resource for graduate student funding, particularly including, but not limited to, international opportunities such as Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Boren AwardsCritical Language Scholarship, and more. 
  3. VCU Graduate School’s Travel Grant Program provides grants of up to $300 for degree-seeking students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs.  All degree-seeking graduate students at VCU are eligible to apply for this program.

Transfer credit programs

Keep in mind that in many cases, study abroad courses return to VCU as international transfer credit, so please keep the following in mind:
  • We must ensure you are enrolling on a program abroad that offers credit from an accredited university that is recognized by its country's ministry of education as an accredited degree-granting institution of higher education AND that it is an institution that offers credit at the graduate level (and that the courses you propose to take would be taken at the graduate level).
  • You may be limited in the number and type of courses you can transfer back to VCU at the graduate level.  Continue reading the next section for more details.  
  • Graduate students interested in participating in education abroad should discuss and seek guidance and approval from 1) GEO, 2) their faculty adviser and 3) the VCU Graduate School.  Advisers and the Graduate School are able to provide the following information:
    • What study abroad programs graduate students in your degree program have completed in the past. You may want to follow in someone else’s footsteps, or create a new path for yourself based on your interests and connections. 
    • How many transfer credits from abroad are allowed for a graduate student’s degree program, and how many credits are allowed to transfer and apply to the individual student’s transcript based on the student’s previous transfer credits applied to their record 
    • How the credit from abroad can transfer (i.e. what degree requirements will be fulfilled, waived, or substituted through the experience abroad) and the process of completing the Request for Special Action Form which is used to document approval of study abroad transfer credits.
More information can be found on the university’s Graduate Bulletin in the section on Education Abroad.

Please contact and/or schedule an appointment with VCU Education Abroad for questions and further information.