Can I study abroad with my major?

February 22, 2022

Young woman in wheelchair taking photos in downtown district in Kuala LumpurAre you interested in studying abroad during your time at UC Berkeley, but wondering if your major will make it easy to do so? This article highlights some basic planning tips and resources to figure out how studying abroad might fit in with your plans. 

Two planning approaches

There are two basic ways to plan your major when you're considering studying abroad. 

The first approach is what most students think of: finding a program with courses that can satisfy your major's requirements. If you are able to find this type of program, then you can plan your study abroad semester(s) similarly to how you'd plan your semester(s) at UC Berkeley. The main difference is that you will work much more closely with your major department on your course selection. You may be asked to provide information about the offered courses to help your major department make decisions. 

The second approach is to plan your major around your study abroad program. For example, if you knew you wanted to study abroad in Fall of your junior year, you might choose to take extra major coursework in summers or in other semesters so you don't have to worry about major coursework during your abroad program. Summer study abroad programs are popular choices for this approach. 

How do I know which programs offer courses for my major?

UC Berkeley's Study Abroad Program has an excellent section of their website called "Study Abroad in Your Major." Here, you might find pre-approved major courses, directions on getting coursework approved by your major department, and information on how easy it is to study abroad in that major. 

Screenshot of Study Abroad in Your Major page on Study Abroad website

What if I want to double major or take a minor? 

The same techniques apply! If you have a double major or a minor, one option is to focus more in one area while abroad if that makes your planning easier. For example, if you are a double major in History of Art and Amerian Studies, it would likely be easier to find courses for your History of Art major at international institutions. In this case, you might take History of Art courses during your study abroad program and plan your American Studies major around that term or year. 

If you have chosen two fields that offer very little abroad, it may be worth talking with an L&S College Adviser or even a Career Center counselor about studying abroad versus taking on that double major or minor. Studying abroad is a very special experience that can be difficult to replicate after you graduate and it's worth getting help weighing your options.

What else do I need to think about when planning to study abroad? 

From general education requirements to senior residence, there are certainly other academic planning considerations you'll want to take into account when planning your abroad program. Thankfully, you can get support from the Study Abroad office and through L&S College Advising to make sure you've covered it all. 

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