Thinking of Study Abroad?

Co-authored by Wellesley Career Education and the Wellesley Office of International Study.

Through your classes and other activities at Wellesley College, you have learned about diverse issues around the world. Your liberal arts education may have sparked or deepened a special interest in a culture, language, or global phenomenon outside of the United States. This is not out of the ordinary for a Wellesley student. This institution values diversity and understands, “There is no greater benefit to one’s intellectual and social development—and to the vitality of an academic community—than the forthright engagement with and exploration of unfamiliar viewpoints and experiences.”

While it is easy to see the academic benefits of study abroad, it is also important to identify its career benefits. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has a list of competencies that contribute to the career readiness of today’s college graduates. Global/intercultural fluency was one of the marketable competencies on the list. Furthermore, in a NACE survey, employers identified their top four competencies: critical thinking/problem solving, professionalism/work ethic, teamwork, and communications skills. The great news is that you could develop all of these skills as part of your study abroad experience.

Given that study abroad allows students to build skills that employers highly value, it is not surprising that study abroad alumnae end up having stronger post-graduation results than the general college graduate population. According to the IES Abroad Recent Graduate Study, “Study abroad alumni find jobs sooner after graduation, related to their majors, and at a higher starting salary. Study abroad students also have better graduate and professional school acceptance rates. Ninety-seven percent of alumni secured a job within one year after graduation, compared to 49 percent in the general college graduate population.”     

Fast Facts About Studying Abroad with Wellesley

As you assess your study abroad options, it is useful for you to know the specific benefits and opportunities for studying abroad with Wellesley:

  • Wellesley students may choose from a list of more than 160 pre-approved study abroad programs in every world region.
  • Spending a semester or year abroad is affordable and costs about the same as a semester on campus. Financial aid is recalculated to cover housing, meals, flights, and personal expenses while studying abroad. Outside scholarships are available and can be used to offset your student contribution.
  • Students typically earn four units of credit per semester of study abroad.
  • Most majors will accept two 200-level courses from study abroad, and some will accept four!
  • Most Wellesley students study abroad in the fall and/or spring of the junior year. It is sometimes possible to study abroad in the spring of sophomore year or the fall of senior year.

What You Should Do to Prepare

If you want to study abroad, it is important to reflect on your intentions and goals as well as to explore potential options. The following tips will help you do the foundational work necessary to make a well-informed decision about when and where to study abroad:

  • Draft a four-year plan.
    • Begin working on your distribution requirements, and make a plan for any distributions that you might want to fulfill abroad (you can earn one unit in each distribution area abroad).
    • Give some thought to potential majors. Meet with your faculty in majors you are considering to discuss how study abroad fits with that major.
  • Develop your goals. It is important to select a program that will fulfill the needs and interests that are most important to you for your time abroad. Possible goals you may want to consider include: exploring relevant coursework in your major, gaining foreign language proficiency, having an internship or conducting research, or experiencing a different academic system.
  • Do your research. Spend some time on the Office of International Study (OIS) website, to understand the various types of experiences available to Wellesley students. Talk with students who have studied abroad about their experiences, or attend info sessions and panels sponsored by OIS or academic departments.
  • Take a language. If you plan to study abroad in a foreign language destination, you should try before you leave  to learn as much of the local language as feasible, even if you plan to take courses in English. If you plan to study abroad in an English-language destination, you will want to complete Wellesley’s language requirement before you go.
  • Explore relevant coursework. Take a course that focuses on a part of the world you would like to learn more about or in a subject you would like to pursue abroad (even if it is not related to your major).
  • Meet with OIS during the fall of your sophomore year in order to stay on track with study abroad deadlines! All students planning on studying abroad during their junior year must submit a Proposal to Study Away and a Major Declaration Form by December 1 of their sophomore year.
  • Prepare your application. Once approved for study abroad, most students are required to apply directly to their preferred program/host university. In most cases, you will want to apply in February for fall semester programs and in the summer or September for spring semester programs. Think about who you will ask for any necessary letters of recommendation. Apply to one program at a time. (The majority of students are accepted to their first choice program.)

Studying abroad could be one more way to enhance your experience as Wellesley student and to prepare for life after graduation. Wellesley’s mission is “To provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world.” What better way is there to prepare for making a difference in the world than by exploring the world yourself?

If you want to learn more about study abroad, start at