Guidelines for Study Abroad
Study Abroad is an option in which many College of Engineering undergraduates are interested and we encourage participation as a means of broadening education and developing a global view of engineering. International study requires a good deal of planning, organization and self-motivation to be successful but the benefits are well worth the effort. Students may choose to study abroad by participating in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) or in a non-UC sponsored program. Interested students should begin researching country and program options early in their academic career.
ESS Policy and Requirements for Study Abroad
The College of Engineering encourages our undergraduates to participate in a study abroad program as a means of broadening education and developing a global view of engineering. International study requires a good deal of planning, organization and self-motivation to be successful, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Students may choose to study abroad by participating in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) or in a non-UC sponsored program. Study Abroad Programs are offered for one semester, a full academic year or a summer session. Interested students should begin researching country and program options early in their academic career. With careful planning many students can complete a study abroad program without delaying their graduation, however, students who participate in a study abroad program will be granted one additional semester to complete their degree requirements if needed.
- The GPA minimum is set by country the student wishes to study in.
- Students cannot be on “subject to dismissal” status the semester prior to their study abroad.
- The first half of the Reading and Composition requirement must be completed prior to studying abroad.
- Students must submit an academic plan to their ESS adviser at the time of initial application.
- Students must meet with their ESS adviser to have their EAP Preliminary Academic Planning form reviewed and signed.
- Students are encouraged to go in their sophomore or junior year.
- Transfers should try to go either in their 3rd or 4th semester.
- The latest a student should try to go is the first semester of the senior year.
- If students wish to go in their last semester they need to be aware of the possible delay in graduation.
- Students can go for one or two semesters
Advantages and disadvantages of full year program:
- More time to spend in country
- Will most likely need to do engineering courses at least one of those semesters
Advantages and disadvantages of one semester program:
- Can do non-engineering program
- Less time in country
- An additional semester is automatically granted for study abroad.
- Requests for waiver of the senior residency rule due to EAP are always approved.
- A student who wishes to take technical courses for the major while on study abroad should try to get the syllabi and have the UCB faculty review it prior to taking the courses. The official evaluation of the courses will be done when the student returns. Student must bring the syllabi and course descriptions from the term they took the course to their ESS advisor who will give them the course evaluation forms and instruction on how to have the courses reviewed.
- Students wishing to participate in a non-UC study abroad program should meet with their ESS advisor to discuss the process for withdrawing from UC and being readmitted.
- Students who are in a simultaneous degree program must get approval from both colleges to participate in study abroad. If their simultaneous degree plan is for 9 semesters the College of Engineering will approve a 10th semester for studying abroad if necessary.
Who Can Study Abroad
International study is full of potential rewards and opportunities for growth. It is also not right for everyone. Interested students must be honest with themselves about their openness and flexibility, desire to interact, and ability to notice differences and enjoy learning about new points-of-view without being judgmental. Although independence is important, in terms of responsibility, maturity and self-motivation, study abroad is not simply an exercise in self-reliance, but an opportunity to become an active, educated participant in our global community. A good dose of self-confidence and humor is also helpful when you have no idea what you are eating, the showers are just too "unique," your senses are over loaded, or you are exhausted from striving to be so open-minded.
Study abroad is also about being an ambassador. You become a part of very complex and delicate relationships between the College of Engineering, Berkeley, the UC system, and the host university and country. What you do WILL affect the options other students have in the future. Please remember your responsibility and think about your opportunities to represent yourself and all of us well.
You should check with the EAP Office for the GPA requirements needed to be eligible for the various programs. We expect you to be making normal degree progress before you depart on your study abroad and will review your standing before approving a semester or year abroad.
How Long to be Abroad
There are three lengths of time students can choose to study abroad; one semester, an academic year or summer session. Depending on what your goals are when on your study abroad, you should carefully choose an option that both allows you meets those plans and complete the College of Engineering program in a timely manner.
With careful planning many students can complete a study abroad program without delaying their graduation, however students who participate in a study abroad program will be granted one additional semester to complete their degree requirements if needed.
Look carefully at the courses offered at different schools; you will find that some programs are more compatible with your major than others. You should become familiar with how to use courses for major or college requirements; see How To Determine Which EAP Courses Might Count For Major/Minor Or College Requirements.
When to Go
The traditional time to go abroad is at the start of junior year, but EAP has created numerous summer and semester programs geared toward sophomores who need to fulfill breadth requirements (London, Rome, Paris) or for those who want to learn a language (e.g. Germany, Italy, Korea and many others).
Freshmen can apply as early as January to participate in EAP's sophomore oriented programs that start in summer of fall of their second year. Students who choose to wait until the senior year may still be able to successfully incorporate study abroad into their degree program, though travel in senior year may affect graduation plans (see Transferring EAP Courses Back To Cal).
Senior residency is an important Berkeley campus and College requirement. Students who want to study abroad their senior year need to discuss this requirement and possible ways to fulfill it with their Student Academic Adviser (230 Bechtel Hall).
What to Study
We highly value the study abroad learning experience. We encourage you to take a balanced load of engineering and non-engineering courses, completing remaining breadth requirements, fulfilling upper division requirements, etc. While we try to be flexible about granting credit for work done abroad, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. Transferability of course work isn't an issue for students at EAP campuses, but students on non-EAP exchanges must look into this. The advisors in the EAP office and the Office of Undergraduate Admission can give you more information about transferability of credit.
It is also important to consider whether a course can be used for major requirements. In terms of engineering classes, there are clearly some courses that are easier to see as equivalent to the College of Engineering courses than others. All courses need to be evaluated by the department before credit is given. If the student can obtain a course syllabus prior to leaving, they should see if the course is equivalent by obtaining a course evaluation form from their Student Academic Adviser. This will let the student know before hand if they will receive full subject credit, receive partial subject credit whereby the student will need to complete a bridge course in order to fulfill the subject requirement or receive no subject credit. If this is done after the student returns, they risk taking inappropriate courses (see How To Determine Which EAP Courses Might Count For Major/Minor Or College Requirements). Your Student Academic Adviser can assist you with your academic plan. Remember all courses used to fulfill major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
How to Study Abroad
There are two suggested models for study abroad which may be compatible with your the College of Engineering degree program. There are advantages and disadvantages to each and you will need to consider carefully which best meets your needs.
The Education Abroad Program (EAP) is a University of California, system-wide study abroad program administered from a main office at UC Santa Barbara, with an on-campus office at 160 Stephens Hall. One of the advantages of this program is that the courses you take transfer straight to your Berkeley transcript and GPA. Better yet, you pay Berkeley fees and continue to be eligible for all financial aid.
The drawbacks to EAP include that many of the universities or countries that are of interest to you may not be offered through EAP. Some of the programs are "Academic Year Only," although one-semester programs continue to be added. The EAP advising staff can give guidance concerning your target countries.
Please see the EAP web page, visit the countries you are interested in, and see the students' comments. In many cases, you will even be able to go to the host university's web site for detailed information and some nice pictures. EAP also provides information about programs that may be of particular interest to engineering students.
There is some reference material on non-EAP Programs in the Study Abroad library in Stephens Hall.
The Council on International Educational Exchange is an additional off-campus resource: They run some non-EAP programs and can help with documentation (see studyabroad.com and goabroad.com). Finally, there is usually a Study Abroad Fair, sponsored by the EAP office, in central campus in late September or early October.
General: Participating in a program that is not EAP involves "withdrawing" from Berkeley for one or two semesters, and then having a planned readmission. The correct word to use here is "Cancellation." Before studying abroad, you are required to cancel your planned enrollment for the next semester (when you will be away). You should also pre-file an application for readmission. This should not cause you any difficulty if you have good communication with your Student Academic Adviser.
Since you are not on-campus, you don't pay Berkeley fees, but are responsible for the full fees and tuition required by the program you select at your host institution (at non-resident rates, too). Some, but not all, financial aid may still be available to you. You should check with the Financial Aid Office as soon as possible.
Before you leave, you should read and complete the Information for UC Berkeley Students Planning to Study Abroad in Non-UC Sponsored Programs available in the EAP Office, 160 Stephens Hall. It will be very helpful in transferring credit on your return, however please note that the units just show as a block, eg. "Study at the Leeds University, 30 credits granted."
- Financial Aid: Many financial aid programs will continue to fund your education even if you are not on the Berkeley campus, but international travel can be expensive depending on the country and program you choose. If you receive financial aid, please check with the Financial Aid Office, 211 Sproul Hall, about which scholarships and grants are still available to you while you are off-campus and fill out any necessary forms. (Some aid sources require a Leave of Absence Request, for example.) It is very important to think about the costs of living abroad and travel, in addition to tuition for non-EAP programs (and for EAP if you are a non-resident) , when analyzing your financial situation.
- Recruiting: Study abroad will enhance your marketability, but important employer functions and on-campus recruiting may take place while you are away. A little pre-planning should help to mitigate this problem.
- Honors: Students must complete 43 UCB units for letter grades in order to be eligible for honors. Transfer students who wish to be considered for honors and to go abroad must choose EAP, since all courses completed will then be considered as UCB units.
- Academic Calendars: Universities in other countries may not be in session at the same time as Berkeley. You may find that their terms and our semesters don't match. Keep in mind that the usual academic calendar in the southern hemisphere (e.g., Australia) is January through December.
- Language of Instruction: The good news is that English is used at many of the EAP institutions. However, if you want to increase your language skills, make sure you haven't selected a school abroad where the official language of instruction is English. On the other hand, keep in mind that the language skills necessary for studying, writing papers and taking exams in a foreign language are greater than the skills needed for recreational travel.
What You See isn't always What You Get: There are many excellent study abroad programs which are run by US universities. But there are some, heavily promoted, programs which offer international study in a way that is quite misleading. Be sure to thoroughly check out all non-EAP programs by contacting the sponsoring university and ask detailed questions that matter to you and what you expect from your experience.
Where to Start
It is crucial to get an early start. There are many steps to go through, and deadlines for applications come up quickly. Here's a checklist:
- Discuss your interests with your Student Academic Adviser (230 Bechtel Hall).
Make sure you understand your financial aid.
- Talk with as many people as possible about your plans. Word-of-mouth is often your best guide to the true value of many of these exchanges. Ask EAP and Non-EAP programs for names and contact information about other Berkeley students who have participated in the programs that interest you.
- Learn the EAP system, see if there is an EAP opportunity that would fit your needs for timing, country, institution and course of study.
Develop information about potential non-EAP Programs and use the library resources in Stephens Hall to narrow your choices or use the following websites: studyabroad.com and goabroad.com.