Resources for Advisors—Social Science
Study Abroad Opportunities for Social Science Majors and Minors
Study abroad offers enormous opportunities for students who are interested in the social sciences. At UR, those majors include anthropology, economics, history, linguistics, political science and psychology.
It makes sense that the greatest number of students going abroad are those majoring in economics, political science and psychology, since those are among the most popular majors at UR. A semester or a year abroad will greatly enhance your resume and help you to identify career opportunities. Many programs offer challenging internships that are not as readily available at UR –or not at all.
Hundreds of UR alumni have participated in the prestigious London Parliamentary Internship Program; there are similar opportunities in Brussels in the European Parliament and in Edinburgh in the Scottish Parliament. Business internships in finance, marketing and many other fields are not open to just economics majors; any student with an interest in international business can find a suitable course of study. Law is not an undergraduate discipline in the United States, but courses and internships in law are widely available. Psychology and Health and Society majors and minors have taken coursework abroad as well as internships in adolescent development, eating disorders and health care administration.
Internships aren’t just notches for your resume; they will lead to exciting career opportunities back in the United States, or even in other overseas locations in the future. By working side by side with lawyers, politicians, and health care professionals, interns have access to aspects of the host country’s culture that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.
Many students believe that if they are studying the social sciences abroad, they need to first be proficient or fluent in a foreign language. This is not always the case; many English-language programs are located in the UK, Ghana, South Africa, India, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. However, it would be a mistake to overlook extraordinary opportunities to study social sciences in English on UR-sponsored programs in Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan.
Social science majors who study abroad are more likely to apply for competitive scholarships for domestic graduate and professional schools, or for further graduate study abroad.
Study abroad programs in these locations offer a far greater diversity of social science courses than can be found on an American campus. These programs are designed to immerse students in the economics, politics and anthropology of many cultures. What can you experience abroad that you can’t study as effectively at UR? Most programs feature regular field trips to historic sites, organizations, and museums of all kinds. If you have already traveled, you know that reading about the Second World War is a very different learning experience from visiting the beaches of Normandy or even visiting London’s Imperial War Museum. You’ll find Urban Studies in Shanghai, South African History in Cape Town and Politics of North Africa in Morocco.
The Career Center strongly encourages humanities and social science students to take advantage of the flexible Rochester Curriculum to spend at least one semester abroad during their four (or five) years. For more than 20 years, the Take Five program has provided UR undergraduates majoring in the humanities, sciences and engineering the opportunity to add breadth to their work with courses from another division.
Many students may believe that they are “just not good” at languages. However, they often find that learning a new language in a natural environment can make them reconsider their abilities. Consider these figures: it is true that you can “get by” in many locations around the world knowing only English; there are about 400 million speakers world-wide. But did you know that there are an estimated 70 million speakers of Italian in the world? German has about 100 million speakers; Japanese, 130 million; Arabic about 180 million; French, 200 million; Russian, 280 million; Spanish, 500 million; and Chinese, one billion. Learning another language provides you with important cultural, social and political understandings, as well as insights into your own native language and cultural milieu.
Nearly all UR-sponsored programs offer courses in the social sciences and humanities. Students may petition to use a course taken while abroad towards a cluster. For more information, see a study abroad adviser.