UMR student smiling

Learning Abroad

"There are two words that capture the essence of a study away experience: life changing. No matter where you go or what you do, there will be some facet of your experience that will touch your heart, mind and soul." - Nitya, UMR Alumna

Learning abroad provides an opportunity to discover new perspectives and learn how to make decisions with limited and ambiguous information.

Why is this important for future healthcare professionals? Because dealing with ambiguity is a part of daily work life. As a healthcare professional, you must be able to make decisions in a fast-paced and time-sensitive environment, with limited information. Understanding the perspective of others, as well as the cultural norms and traditions that influence their health and health practices, is essential to providing good care.

Planning Your Experience Abroad

Consult with your UMR coach before beginning your study abroad program research. Continue to work with your coach as you make decisions, to ensure your courses and experiences integrate well into your major and career path.

Students interested in learning more about studying abroad, how it aligns with your career goals, and how it can be integrated into your academic plan, should first meet with your UMR coach to discuss your plans. In this meeting you may wish to:

  • Set goals for learning away.
  • Discuss when/how to complete graduation requirements and graduate/professional school prerequisites.
  • Use the Academic Planning Form to discuss coursework abroad and how it might meet major and/or minor requirements.
  • Discuss the career benefits of learning abroad.

Following that meeting, students are encouraged to follow this basic process to study abroad. The order in which students complete these items is somewhat flexible.

More than 250 programs in 70 countries are available to University of Minnesota students. Consider your academic interests, your geographic interests, and your career goals. Winter Break, May, and/or Summer Session and virtual internship programs can be a great first step. Talk with your coach about what types of learning abroad opportunities might fulfill your goals and where they might fit into your academic plan.

Learning abroad programs

The Learning Abroad in Medicine, Public Health & Health Sciences resource page provides a selection of programs that may be of interest to UMR students. The Program Search can also be used to identify search criteria that are important to you. 

Virtual Internships

Global Virtual Internships are an opportunity to gain a global learning experience and develop valuable skills without leaving the United States. Virtual Internships are 4 credits and can vary in commitment from 12-20 hours per week. Consult with your coach if you are interested in incorporating a Virtual Internship into your academic plan.

Program selection advising appointments with the LAC 

Schedule a virtual Learning Abroad center Program Selection Advising appointment. A Learning Abroad Center adviser at UMTC can meet with you one-on-one for a 30-minute virtual  appointment to discuss your interests, goals, academics, career, and help you narrow down your program options.     

Nonaffiliated Programs 

UMR strongly encourages students to participate in UofM-sponsored or affiliated programs, which have been vetted and approved by the Learning Abroad Center or another unit on campus. The UofM has close working relationships with hundreds of affiliated programs that are high quality in terms of academic standards, housing, cultural immersion, health and safety and administrative support services. UMR encourages you to choose program options found on the Learning Abroad Center website. Occasionally UMR students inquire about nonaffiliated programs; approval and support for nonaffiliated programs is highly unlikely. 

Program Types and Definitions

Review the Program Types & Definitions page to learn more about the various types of learning abroad opportunities, from short-term faculty led Global Seminars to semester or year-long host university programs.

Many abroad opportunities cost, on average, the same as what you will pay for a semester at the University of Minnesota. Do not let the fear of program cost keep you from exploring study abroad as an educational opportunity. Learn more about how to finance your experience abroad by checking out these resources:

If you are in need of financial support prior to your term financial aid disbursement, you may be able to apply for a Bridging Loan.

  • It’s normal not to know what your parents will think of this study abroad idea, but it’s important to discuss it with them soon.
  • The Talking to Your Parents section of the Learning Abroad Center’s website provides rationale, explanations and information for you and your parents on why this is an important component of your college experience. 
  • Encourage parents to review the For Parents section of the Learning Abroad Center website to help answer any questions or concerns they may have.

Going abroad is absolutely possible, with careful planning. Work with your coach to identify the best terms to go abroad, based on your academic plan. If you are planning to go abroad for a semester or longer, start planning early to accommodate courses only taught during the fall or spring semester.

When is the best time to go abroad?

Discuss learning abroad with your coach to determine a term that works with your academic plan. Short term programs over winter break, spring break, or May session can be a great way to explore a study abroad experience and fit it into your academic plan without interrupting course sequencing during the academic year or professional school application and preparation. Students may also choose to integrate a semester abroad into their Capstone in junior or senior year. Virtual internships also offer a flexible option to students who are seeking a global experience without leaving the United States. 


Some health profession programs will not accept prerequisite coursework taken outside the United States. Work with your coach to ensure your abroad experience will integrate well with your academic and career planning. 

Will my learning abroad courses transfer to UMR?

Learning Abroad Center advisers can help you with program and course information to assist your academic planning with your coach. Consult with your coach for steps on evaluating learning abroad coursework transferability. 

The Academic Planning for Study Abroad (APSA) Form can help with your academic planning. Work with your coach to ensure you are clear on how your learning abroad coursework will transfer to UMR. If you have declared a minor, be sure to additionally reach out to the minor department to consult about any planned minor coursework taken abroad. 

Can I fulfill Liberal Education requirements abroad?

Students can search the U Credit Abroad system to select from more than 2,000 study abroad courses that have already been pre-approved for liberal education requirements. They may also submit any liberal education courses that have not yet been evaluated for approval online.

Those looking to apply study abroad credits to the University's Liberal Education requirements should decide early on which requirements they want to satisfy through courses taken abroad, so they aren't fulfilled on campus.

Complete your Learning Abroad Center application under the "apply" tab for each program; each program has different requirements and instructions. Be sure you clearly understand the requirements and prerequisites (if applicable) for the program to which you are applying.

Expect it to take 2–3 weeks after your application is complete to know if you’ve been offered a spot in the program.

Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS)

If you plan to participate in a program where you may have interaction with patients, please complete the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS) online module. This interactive online workshop developed by the Pre-Health Student Resource Center will help you:

  • prepare for your experience abroad
  • use your experience abroad to make a positive impact on your health program application
  • consider the legal and ethical boundaries that should guide your activities while abroad
  • understand your own limitations as an unlicensed student

When you return home, you may be looking for ways to build upon your international experience, further your career goals, or share about your experiences abroad.


  • Check to see if your study abroad coursework has been posted to your UMR transcript. It can take 12 weeks or more from the time your program ends for your grades to post, so be patient. If it has been more than 12 weeks since you returned and your credits still have not been posted, contact the LAC adviser for your program. 
  • Study abroad courses that were evaluated and approved for liberal education requirements through the U Credit Abroad database should be reflected on your APAS report. If they are not, contact the Learning Abroad Center. If you did not have your courses evaluated before participating in your study abroad program, you can submit them through the U Credit Abroad database after you return.


  • Continue your cross cultural journey by engaging with one of UMR's many multicultural student organizations.
  • Chat with your coach about your experience, previous IDI results, and development of goals to continue your journey.
  • Join a Diversity Dialogue or other cultural events on campus.
  • Look for cultural events in the Rochester community. Check out UMR's Intercultural Learning and Development Resources document for opportunities and places to look in the Rochester area. 

Career Relevance

Your time abroad can significantly impact your future career plans and employability. It is not only important to think about what you did, but also what you learned and how you can apply that knowledge to your future. A potential employer or graduate school committee member may not have studied abroad or understand the advantage that gives you. It's up to you to effectively communicate the skills you gained abroad and how they are relevant.

Learn more about past Learning Abroad Center program participant experiences.

Natalya Wells standing in front of cherry blossom tree

Natalya Wells ‘21


Virtual Internship at the National Hospital for Paraplegics in Spain

Spring 2021

Why did you choose to do a virtual internship?

I chose to do a virtual internship to gain insight into another country's professional norms and cultural context. I always wanted to study abroad during college, however, with graduating a year early I didn't really have the time. But because of the pandemic and this opportunity, I got that chance!

What did you gain from your global internship experience and how do you see that impact in your life today?

From my internship experience, I learned a lot about research and also got an insight into Spain's culture. My mentors were incredible and I'm still in contact with them! This experience opened my eyes for where I can go with my career and how I don't need to stay in my home country if I don't want to. I also got to hear stories from patients with spinal cord injuries, which reminded me of the importance of a patient's personal narrative and how that matters for their individual care.

Do you have any advice or general comments for current UMR students who are thinking about learning away or doing a virtual internship?

I highly recommend that UMR students take advantage of studying abroad or doing a virtual internship to further your knowledge of cultures different than your own, as well as to enjoy your life before entering the crazy journey of medicine!



Bryar Hansen Barcelona

Bryar Hansen ‘16 


Business + Culture in Barcelona

Fall 2015

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I always wanted to go into medicine, but about midway through my time at UMR, I thought I may want to go a different route. I started taking business courses in conjunction with my science courses at UMR. Wanting to diversify myself a little bit, I decided to continue this new adventure by pursuing an academic emphasis in International Business at one of the top business schools in Barcelona, Spain. I had already been proficient in Spanish and had begun learning the regional language of Catalan, so this challenge seemed pretty perfect. I was able to fit all of my prerequisites and my additional semester abroad, all while graduating in my expected 4 year time frame without any delays.

What did you gain from your global internship experience and how do you see that impact in your life today?

In addition to gaining the personal growth, the autonomy, and the excitement that comes with adventuring someplace completely new, I also found myself revisiting what my future career goals were. As I studied these business courses, I realized that my heart was really in the sciences and in medicine. I came back to UMR for my final semester with the plans to pursue medical school. Now that I’m in my final year of that journey, I’d say I’m pretty grateful for the experience I had there.

Do you have any advice or general comments for current UMR students who are thinking about learning away or doing a virtual internship?

My advice would be.. if you can feasibly do it, you should. Studying abroad helped me feel more independent and motivated than I could have ever expected. Being so far out of your comfort zone helps you adapt to the surroundings in ways that I hadn’t been exposed to before. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is something that comes with being in the medical field, and having an experience like study abroad to prime you for these situations was so incredible.



Madi McCabe posing with students and young children.

Madi McCabe ‘19


Uganda Child Family Health International

February 2018

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I absolutely love traveling and learning about new cultures. 

What did you gain from your global internship experience and how do you see that impact in your life today?

From my study abroad experience, I now have a better understanding of how medical and dental care in Uganda work. I still think about my time in Uganda often and can’t wait until I can return someday as a dentist!

Do you have any advice or general comments for current UMR students who are thinking about learning away or doing a virtual internship?

Spending a month in Uganda is one of my favorite memories from my whole college experience. I would highly recommend studying abroad if you have the time! The experiences will stay with you forever! 


Audra Gaikowski standing on top of a hill overlooking fields.

Audra Gaikowski ‘20


MSID Ecuador

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to go abroad because I wanted to gain educational and cultural experiences outside of Minnesota. For me, it was actually very feasible to fit a year abroad into my academic plan as I was able to take all of the courses required for my degree at UMR in my first 2 years on campus. 

What did you gain from your global internship experience and how do you see that impact in your life today?

During my experience abroad, I learned so much about the importance of adaptability and practicing cultural humility. Change is inevitable in our lives, and something that I was previously uncomfortable with. However, it is through change that we grow, and my learning abroad experience taught me that. Additionally, during my time abroad, I gained a greater appreciation for the importance of practicing cultural humility and how this practice should be an aspect of our daily lives and learning journey. I see these both impacting myself on a daily basis as I am working and learning in the US because these are important skills everyone needs, wherever they are. 

Do you have any advice or general comments for current UMR students who are thinking about learning away or doing a virtual internship?

If you are able, study abroad! It's a life changing experience.



Elisabeth Pearson standing in front of a cliff and ocean.

Elisabeth Pearson ‘19


Psychology & Research in Madrid

Fall 2018

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to go abroad to enhance my cultural scope of the world, which is applicable for a future career in healthcare. I also found it extremely valuable to be in Spain where I could get the opportunity to put the spanish I've been learning to use. I knew I wanted to study abroad when I first began college and I told my advisor right away, so it was very easy to fit it into my academic plan and I did not have to take any summer classes or postpone graduation.

What did you gain from your global internship experience and how do you see that impact in your life today?

I gained many skills during my learning abroad experience, one of them being the confidence in myself to be in uncomfortable situations and trust that I can succeed in any environment. I also learned a lot of language skills and met a lot of people I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet. This experience gave me the confidence to move across the country and start a job in my field in a place where I knew nobody. This job has been such a turning point in my career.

Do you have any advice or general comments for current UMR students who are thinking about learning away or doing a virtual internship?

I would advise anyone who has even the smallest bit of interest to study abroad to do it. The experiences you get are once in a lifetime and you're never going to regret doing the experience, but you will regret not doing it.



Mason Schlief posing with other students in front of a street.

Mason Schlief ‘19


Global Change, Community, and Families in Thailand

Spring 2019

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad during my time as a student at UMR because I was not sure that I would get the opportunity again to travel outside of the United States. I also was not sure that in the future I would be able to afford a trip like it. I decided to pursue this opportunity with only my last year left. Working with my student success coach, we were able to plan my courses so that I did not have to worry about extending graduation.

What did you gain from your global internship experience and how do you see that impact in your life today?

I was exposed to a totally different culture and lifestyle that I never understood before. I gained insight into how to build relationships with people from unique backgrounds and recognize the differences in lifestyle, values and needs around the world. I use that in my current work to better understand my clients, their experiences and needs.

Do you have any advice or general comments for current UMR students who are thinking about learning away or doing a virtual internship?

Do it while you have the ability to apply for grants and have access to programs that have guides and relationships with the community! There are so many things to learn out there and college is a great time to explore.

Would you like to share your experience abroad? UMR alums are encouraged to reach out to Emiko Walker at to share about your experience participating in a Learning Abroad Center program.