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Study Abroad at SMU

Things to Know

SMU offers a full range of programs: study abroad, international internships and service, research, and culturally-enriched class trips abroad.  The SMU Abroad Office manages study abroad and internship programs. You can spend an academic year, semester,  or summer on about 150 approved programs in about 50 countries as an integral part of your SMU undergraduate degree.

SMU Abroad programs provide academic opportunities that complement offerings at SMU and allow a high degree of integration into local culture and student life. 

The programs are categorized as "SMU-in" programs and SMU-approved provider programs.

SMU-in Programs
"SMU-in" semester programs include SMU-in-Australia, SMU-in-Copenhagen, SMU-in-Spain, and SMU-in-Switzerland.  Courses have been approved for SMU credit. Most financial aid packages are applicable.

"SMU-in" summer programs are developed by academic departments and led by SMU faculty. Courses are SMU courses that have been designed to complement the program location. Approximately 20 programs of different disciplines are offered annually. Several of these programs include internship opportunities.

SMU-Approved Provider Programs
Over 100 approved programs are offered during the semester through the following study abroad providers: 

  • BCA Abroad
  • CET Academic Programs
  • Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE)
  • IES Abroad
  • Internships in Francophone Europe (IFE)
  • Institute for Study Abroad with Butler University (IFSA-Butler)
  • School for International Training (SIT)
  • School for Field Studies (SFS). 

We also offer the following approved independent programs:

  • Bologna Consortial Studies Program, University of Bologna
  • British American Drama Academy (BADA), London Theatre Program
  • National Theater Institute (NTI), Moscow Art Theater School (MATS)

Courses are approved for credit through SMU departments. Most financial aid packages are applicable. Many of these programs may include internships, research, and service abroad. For more information, visit the programs' webpages.

If you participate in an "SMU-in" or SMU approved program, you:

a) apply through SMU Abroad,
b) remain fully registered at SMU while you are abroad,
c) receive SMU credit for courses taken abroad, and
d) may be able to apply all or some of your financial aid package to your program abroad.
e) most programs also require a second application through a provider or the abroad institution.

About 500 SMU students from all undergraduate schools go abroad each year on SMU-approved programs. Students must meet eligibility requirements, including minimum GPA, class standing, language prerequisites, and other program specifics.

The earliest you can participate is the summer after your first year at SMU. For semester programs, you must be a sophomore, junior, or first semester senior to study; the exact classification required depends on the program. Transfer students must complete one year at SMU before studying abroad.

NOTE: If you are a senior and you want to study abroad during your final SMU semester, you must be enrolled in a full load of courses as defined by the host institution, regardless of how many credits you need to graduate. With regards to graduation, be aware of the following considerations:

  • You may not be able to meet specific graduation requirements while abroad. This could happen due to the host university cancelling classes or classes being full; the university going on strike or closing for other reasons; a professor falling ill; or even you failing a class and therefore not receiving credit.
  • Your overseas transcript does not arrive at SMU in time for graduation. This could happen due to the host university being on a different academic calendar than SMU; your host university professors being late in submitting grades; or even you having a balance on either your host university or SMU account.  Even if none of the above happen, it is highly unlikely SMU will receive your abroad transcript in time to process for a May graduation.  You can talk to your academic adviser about walking in May and officially graduating in August.
  • Your SMU transcript may not be posted in time. It may be delayed if ANY of your classes taken abroad have not been approved prior to your return to SMU. This includes courses that are not necessarily needed for graduation.

SMU approved semester programs are located in universities and institutes in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia. SMU faculty offer customized discipline-specific programs during summer around the world.

Regardless of destination, you will be exposed to different cultures and academic systems. The best study abroad experience will offer you a strong academic experience in a culturally integrated environment. 

SMU Abroad semester programs cost regular SMU tuition and fees plus the mandatory international health insurance. This payment covers all the academic costs of the program, up to 18 academic credit hours, regardless of the cost advertised and charged by the program itself. If you earn more than the maximum 18 hours, you will be charged additional SMU tuition per credit hour.

For "SMU-in" programs, you pay non-academic costs (e.g., room and board, additional program fees) either in part or in full to SMU through a program fee.

For approved provider programs, you pay non-academic fees directly to the provider or overseas institution. 

For semester, the total cost is usually within $5,000 of what you would expect to spend if you stayed on campus. The actual cost can vary based on your housing choices, cost of living in your program location, airfare, and personal expenses and entertainment while abroad.

If you are concerned about funding, please speak to your financial aid adviser and Cori Hill, SMU Abroad Program Specialist.

As long as you participate on a SMU Abroad program and have applied through SMU Abroad, the courses you take will come back as SMU credit. Be sure to make sure your classes are pre-approved for SMU credit. See the SMU Abroad Course Database for classes that are already approved. If the courses you wish to take are not in the database, petition for approval through the SMU Abroad Office.

This system is designed to enable SMU to offer students to attend international programs on the same basis as attending SMU in Dallas. It allows students to make regular progress toward the degree and, usually, carry financial aid and scholarships with you. It also allows SMU to exercise oversight of the education abroad experience, to be able to advise students planning to go abroad and to ensure that the academic experience is commensurate with the quality of education at SMU.

Define your personal and academic objectives, and then decide on the type and location of the program that suits you best. Ask yourself what you hope to gain from the experience. Think about the following:

What do I want to accomplish?
What do I want to study?
Where do I want to study? In a big city or small town? At a big university, small college or a learning center for U.S. study abroad students?
What kind of program is appropriate for me? Direct enrolling in a foreign university taking a variety of courses? Language immersion? Short study trip with other study abroad students?
Do I want to incorporate community service or an internship into my experience?
Who are potential resources at SMU with whom I could speak about my ideas?

Do I want the classes I take to complement my SMU academic program?
Do I want to take courses for my major, general education requirements or elective credit?
How many courses do I take, how many credits will I earn on the program?
Are the courses appropriate for my degree requirements?
Does the program offer an official transcript from an accredited academic institution?

Is there a language course requirement as part of the program?
Are language courses available for me to participate?
Are there program activities that require me to use the local language?
Do I want to practice with local people my language skills?
What obstacles will I encounter if I am not able to speak the local language?

How is the program integrated into the culture of the host country?
Do I want to live with local or other international students?
Do I want to live with a host family?
Do I want to have access to local cultural activities and venues?
Are there guided field trips or group excursions to learn about the culture?
Does the program have components that enable me to interact with the local people?

Do I want to be able to join student organizations with local students?
Do I want to study with locals?
Do I want my classmates be U.S. students only?
Do I have time for independent travel?

Once you have an idea of what you want from the experience, determine the program location. Search according to your higher priorities such as country, city, field of study, and language of instruction

Will I have an opportunity to build friendships and feel a part of the community in which I am living?

Limit your search criteria to one or two items will give you the best results. For example, you may search according to country, city, field of study, language of instruction.

  1. Broaden your world!
    What amazing landscapes have formed around the earth! What ingenious landmarks have been built to honor the interaction of its people! What better way to expand your global knowledge than to go into it; see, touch and experience it.

  2. Master another language!
    Doors open when you can communicate. One of the quickest ways to learn a new language or improve one you are studying is to immerse yourself in it. Knowing more than one language is like having more than one life! 

  3. Explore your heritage!
    All families come from somewhere. Uncover clues to your family's history by spending significant time in the land of your ancestral roots. What a joy to find yourself in the mirror of their histories! What fun to walk the streets they once walked! 

  4. Understand diversity!
    Recognizing how the world is wonderfully varied and full of surprises, not the same as home, is the key to a successful time abroad. Find how people are similar despite being from across the globe. Listen and learn; a valuable lesson even after you return home. 

  5. Embrace learning!
    You come alive! Just as city tours and museum visits are part of your education, so are walks around your new neighborhood, shopping for groceries, even waking up in the morning to new sounds, smells and tastes. Life becomes one long learning experience! 

  6. Find your passion!
    You may develop a knack for new languages, hidden histories or long alpine walks. You may find your life's direction, decide to work abroad or just fall in love with travel. Use your experience abroad to define who you are and refine the next step of your life! 

  7. Enhance your professional potential!
    Impress employers with your international experience. You, as a culturally savvy, globally-minded professional, will be in demand. Companies want graduates with multilingual and multicultural experience, abroad as well as in the increasingly diverse workforce in the U.S. 

  8. See your country with new eyes!
    Ever wonder what your country looks from the outside? And how your culture fits into the global puzzle? When you travel and expose yourself to others' rich traditions, you are given the opportunity to question your own.