Choosing a Program

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Do you want to study off-campus, but aren’t sure how to find the right program? Your study abroad advisor will help you sort through options when you come in for your appointment. Here are resources that will help you get started:

Finding Programs

Recommended Programs
The Recommended Programs list consists of universities and programs that have a good track record with Macalester students and which often fit well into the Macalester curriculum. You can also filter programs by location, language, recommending academic departments, and more using the Advanced Search tab. 

Student Program Evaluations
A great place to begin is by learning from the experiences of other Macalester students. Read their evaluations of programs (log in with your Macalester email user name and password). Students evaluate their classes, housing, professors, language learning and overall experience.

Macalester Programs
These programs are coordinated by Macalester and other US or foreign partners.

Visit IIE Passport

This is the most comprehensive database of off-campus study programs. Use the “advanced search” function to search by country, area of study, language of instruction, term, etc. Keep in mind that finding a program on this site is just the beginning; these programs are not vetted for quality before listing them in this search engine. If you have questions about a particular program, talk with your Study Abroad Advisor.

Finding the right program for you

Reflecting on the questions below can help you to focus in on your top priorities for off-campus study:

  1. What are your academic and personal goals for off-campus study? Do you plan to focus on your major(s) or another area of interest?

  2. What courses would you like to take? Do you need credits to count towards your major(s), minor(s) or concentration(s) in order to graduate on time?

  3. What learning style do you prefer? Do you like independent or more structured learning environments? Some programs offer classroom-style courses; others have experiential learning options like independent study, directed research, or internships. All of these set-ups have pros and cons. Some things to consider:

    • Independent Study or Directed Research: These are great options for students who like experiential learning, who have a particular topic or interest they would like to pursue, or who would like to use research done off-campus as a foundation for other scholarship. The academic rigor of these programs often depends on how much effort and motivation an individual student has.

      IRB at Macalester

      Most Macalester students who do such projects do them on SIT programs. Macalester’s Perspectives on Globalization (Netherlands) and Globalization and the Environment (South Africa) programs offer academically rigorous coursework through independent research and direct enroll courses at renowned universities. ACM’s spring program in Costa Rica provides a unique eight-week research period. Talk to your study abroad advisor about these and other options.

      Globalization and the Environment
      Perspectives on Globalization

    • Internship: This is great for students wanting to gain hands-on experience in a particular field. Internships can help you hone professional skills and improve language abilities. Many programs pair an internship with a final paper that some students have used as a basis for scholarship at Macalester.

      IRB at Macalester

      All IFE, HECUA, and MSID programs center upon internships. Talk with your study abroad advisor about these and other internship programs.

    • Courses at a local university: This option offers the widest array of course choices. You will take classes alongside locals, learn from local professors, and live the life of a college student in whatever country you go to. Students usually need to be independent and proactive about making their experience what they want it to be.

      There are two ways to do this – by going through a study abroad program or enrolling directly in a local university. Big study abroad organizations such as CIEE, IFSA-Butler, and IES usually offer local university courses in addition to some custom courses of their own just for study abroad students. Some of their programs are on our Recommended List. Many Macalester students enroll directly in such foreign universities as the King’s College London, University of Edinburgh or James Cook University. In some cases, Macalester will approve ONLY the direct enrollment option.

      If you are considering enrolling at a unviersity in the United Kingdom, there are some details it’s important to be aware of. Read more about choosing among the British Universities.

    • Other programs: Not all programs fit into one of the above categories. Some focus specifically on language learning, such as: ACM - Japan Study, China Studies Institute, and CIEE in Russia, China, and Jordan.

      Still other programs are centered on a specific discipline, such as Budapest Semester in Mathematics; IAU - Marchutz School of Art (painting); College Year in Athens (classics).

      And there are programs that defy classification, such as DIS in Copenhagen, which offers a huge array of courses, and SEA Semester. Consult with your study abroad advisor.
  4. What sort of environment do you want to study in? Rural or urban? Is there a particular region of the world you’re interested in?
  5. Do you have adequate language preparation to study in the desired region? If needed, does the program you are considering offer instructional courses on the local language/dialect?

  6. Do you meet the eligibility requirements (e.g. minimum GPA, language level) for the program you are considering?

  7. What sort of living situation do you prefer? The most common options for students are homestays, apartments, or dorms. Homestays generally offer the most integrated experience.
    Read about homestay experiences from Macalester students.
  8. Are there any important social identities that you are hoping to explore while studying off-campus or that you think might influence your choice of program/location?

What’s next?

Have you completed the other steps under our planning section? Have you decided which program you will propose to Macalester?

If so, you’re ready to start thinking about applying for off-campus study