A key element of psychology is learning about individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Study abroad programs allow you to immerse yourself in another culture and to have exciting and enriching experiences. Additionally, if you are learning a foreign language (a highly recommended goal by many job experts), practicing the language in a country where it is spoken is invaluable. As a Psychology major, you’ll also have the opportunity to engage in research and outreach opportunities while abroad.
If you’re interested in studying abroad, the URI Office of International Education can help you learn about various programs, their requirements and the application process. You also can explore online to discover excellent study abroad programs. Students sometimes independently discover excellent study abroad programs and then work with the Study Abroad office to make the arrangements.
Study Abroad Credits and FAQs
Once you have been accepted in a program, you will need to make decisions about the courses you will take, getting approval from faculty at URI (see section below). For courses taken off campus, whether abroad or in the U.S., the grades will not transfer, but the credits will, providing you earn a C or better in the courses. During the semester abroad, students must be registered at URI for Off-Campus Study (OCS 999).
Does studying abroad count towards my language requirement as a psychology major?
Studying abroad for a semester, regardless of the language spoken, is an approved way to meet the language requirement. Students who study abroad often are doing so, in part, to build their skill in a foreign language. However, students may choose to study abroad in a country in which English is spoken or may go to a country in which English is not the native language, but the study abroad program provides classes taught in English. Any of these options would satisfy the language requirement. Yet, to have a study abroad experience meet the language requirement, it is necessary to go for an academic semester, not for a shorter summer program (unless language courses are taken (see below)).
May I study abroad during the summer to fulfill my foreign language requirement?
No, unless you actually earn language credits in a foreign language.
Can doing a National Exchange satisfy the language requirement?
No, unless you take language credits while you are there. However, studying at another university in the United States can be another exciting way to expand your experiences and to access the resources of another university. For more information, visit the National Student Exchange website.
When is the best time to study abroad?
Most often students chose to go abroad for a semester during their junior year, but other semesters also are possible.
How do I decide which study abroad program to pursue?
The first steps are to identify what type of experience you are interested in, such as: which country, an urban or rural setting, the type of program (small group/specialized; large university), the living arrangements (dorm; home stay), etc.
Is it possible to take psychology classes while Studying Abroad or during a National Exchange?
Definitely! Most Study Abroad and National Exchange programs offer psychology classes or other classes related to Psychology. When searching for a program, it is important to consider your academic goals in addition to other features. A particular program might offer a specialization that would enhance your academic preparation. For examples: a) one student who was interested in Forensic Psychology chose to attend Edith Cowan University in Western Australia for a semester abroad because their sociology department offers a number of courses in forensic science that complemented her interests in psychology, forensics and criminology; b) another student participated in the National Exchange program, attending University of Hawaii at Manoa where she took a course in Animal Behavior as part of her course load. She also participated as a volunteer research assistant at a dolphin and marine mammal facility to gain experience that would aid her in reaching her goal of becoming a dolphin behavior specialist. Opportunities abound to pursue experiences in neuroscience, international peace and nonviolence efforts, and the many other specializations that are in the broad field of Psychology.
How do I obtain prior approval of Psychology Courses that will be taken elsewhere?
- Download and complete the Prior Approval for Off-Campus Study form (PDF)
- Print out descriptions of psychology courses available to you at the university abroad that you would like to take.
- Drop off the form and course descriptions in the Department of Psychology office in Chafee 306.
- The Department Chair will sign your form, indicating how the course would transfer back to URI, and you can pick it up, usually in a day or two. If the course at the foreign university looks comparable to one in URI’s department, it will transfer in as the URI course code. If it is a course on a topic that isn’t offered at URI, it will be classified as a PSY 1XX, 2XX, 3XX or 4XX course, depending on the level of the course.
Note that 3XX and 4XX courses can count toward the requirement for the BA degree to take 42 credits at the 300 level or higher. Because students usually are studying abroad during their junior or senior years, typically it is wise to select courses at the 300+ level while abroad to help meet that goal. Check where you stand so that you choose carefully.
All PSY XX courses will count toward the psychology major as ‘extra’ classes (be sure to keep track of the maximum of credits for your major (BA maximum = 47 credits; BS maximum = 53 credits).
For courses taken abroad to transfer to URI, you must earn a C or better.
Please visit the Office of International Education at the University of Rhode Island for more information.