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Study Abroad Myths Dispelled! Part III: Engineering (STEM) Majors can’t go abroad.

Posted on August 07, 2015

In case you missed it, Diversity Abroad is spending the summer dispelling the most common study abroad myths. In our first article, we addressed the myth that study abroad is just too expensive. In our follow-up article, we addressed the myth that graduating seniors are out of time and can no longer go abroad.

In part III, we’re going to explore the common misconception that Engineering majors -- or any STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math) can’t study abroad because their academic schedules are too rigorous.

Often, students with no prior knowledge about study abroad incorrectly assume that the type of programs and fields of study offered in study abroad programs are limited to the Humanities and Social Sciences. I can understand why it might make sense to assume that the students who typically go abroad are foreign language majors, art or art history majors, or otherwise. Although such programs are plentiful, it is also entirely WRONG to assume that students in the STEM fields can’t go abroad!

Here are important facts to keep straight:

Study Abroad is open to ALL majors. This is generally true, no matter what type of school you’re attending (community college, public or private institution, etc.).

STEM Majors can take courses abroad. While the specifics of this depend significantly on your institution, STEM majors in schools across the country DO go abroad. The 2014 Open Doors Report found that 23% of U.S. students who went abroad were STEM majors!

It IS possible to take STEM courses abroad. As a sample, here are some programs offered through Diversity Abroad in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math. If you have a more specific major, select your subject from our drop-down search menu to find the program for you!

You don’t necessarily have to take courses in your major when you go abroad. Many study abroad programs allow you to earn academic credit towards your degree, but you aren’t required to take a course in your major for it to count. One suggestion to consider: If you’re a freshman or sophomore thinking of going abroad, reserve one of your ‘general education’ requirements for a course that you can take abroad. That way, no matter what you declare, you know that one of the courses you need to take anyway is completed, just in another country.

If you’re concerned about going abroad will deter you from graduating on time, think again. First, reports typically find that students who go abroad are more likely to graduate in four years than their peers who don’t. Second, if you’re not necessarily looking for academic credit, why not pursue an internship or job opportunity abroad? How many STEM majors do you know can say they’ve gone abroad to build their hard and soft skills? Such an experience is sure to set you apart!

We hope that if you consider yourself to be a STEM major, that you’ll reconsider how a global opportunity can enhance, rather than hinder, your academic career.

On our next and final installment, we’ll be debunking another common study abroad myth: “No thanks, it’s not for me!”

Authored By: Trixie Cordova

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