Study Abroad

Each year several psychology majors and minors participate in Study Abroad programs. Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity to experience a different culture and to take advantage of the resources of another educational institution. If you plan to study abroad, here are some things to keep in mind:

Completing your NU Study Abroad application

You should meet with Dr. Sara Broaders, Director of Undergraduate Studies, or with Dr. Ben Gorvine to discuss your plans for studying abroad. Either of them can sign your NU Study Abroad application to indicate department approval of your plans. They can also talk with you about psychology courses you might take abroad. Discussing your plans ahead of time will increase the likelihood that you and the department will agree on how courses you take abroad fit into the requirements for the psychology major or minor. To make an appointment, contact the Undergraduate Program Assistant in the psychology department office (Swift Hall 102, phone 847-491-5190) or email psych-advising@u.northwestern.edu.

Department credit for courses taken abroad

Official department permission to count study abroad courses toward the psychology major or minor cannot be given until you have returned to NU. Be sure to save course syllabi and papers. In order to receive credit toward the major or minor, you will also need to complete the Weinberg College Petition for Credit from Study Abroad. Either Dr. Sara Broaders or Dr. Ben Gorvine can sign this form.

With department permission, students studying abroad for less than a full year can count a maximum of 2 credits toward a psychology major or minor. (Additional psychology courses beyond those counted toward the major or minor can generally count as WCAS electives.) Students studying abroad for the whole academic year can count up to 4 credits earned abroad toward the requirements for the psychology major or up to 3 credits toward the psychology minor.

Courses to take before you go abroad

If you are a psychology major who will be abroad for all of your junior year, then you should complete PSYCH 201-Statistical Methods and PSYCH 205-Research Methods before you go, and you should at least get started on your Column A and Column B requirements. This preparation will make it much easier for you to complete your major requirements when you return.

Courses to take while you are abroad

Many institutions abroad offer excellent psychology courses on topics different from those taught at NU. Taking a course that interests you and that is not taught at NU is often an excellent idea. Keep in mind, however, that although such courses can often count as 300-level courses for the major, they are much less likely to count toward your Column A (social/personality/clinical) or Column B (cognitive/neuroscience) requirements. Courses taken abroad may not count toward the upper-level research requirement. Be sure to talk with Dr. Broaders or Dr. Gorvine about whether you should take courses to fulfill specific requirements.

Many psychology students who go abroad for just one quarter will be in fine shape on the major or minor even if they do not take psychology courses abroad. They may focus their work abroad on language study, on courses relevant for a second major or minor, or on longer term goals. Progress on the major/minor is an important issue to discuss when you meet with an adviser about your Study Abroad application.

Study abroad and independent study

Many psychology students become involved in PSYCH 399-Independent Study or 397-Advanced Supervised Research during their junior year. If you are not at Northwestern during your junior year, you will miss out on some opportunities to take part in these hands-on research activities. What you gain through study abroad may more than make up for what you miss – but you should be aware of the fact that this is one drawback.

Students sometimes ask if they can earn PSYCH 399 credit for research completed abroad. The answer is almost always no. A better option may be to build on your work abroad as part of a project done after you return to Northwestern. See the Study Abroad Office webpage on doing research abroad for more information.

Study abroad and department honors

Selection for the Honors Program in Psychology takes place in Spring quarter of the junior year. If you will be studying abroad during Spring of your junior year and you would like to be considered for the Honors Program, be sure to talk with Dr. Sandra Waxman, the Director of the Honors Program, before you go.