How to Find a Grad Program with Travel Opportunities
Ever since I studied abroad in Spain, I knew travel needed to be a part of my life. Whether that meant working in a study abroad office, international business, or teaching abroad, I wanted to incorporate it in my future career. A Fulbright Fellowship between undergrad and grad school solidified this passion and my hunt for a grad program, where I can study and travel, began.
But with most graduate programs requiring a year or more commitment in one place, it can be challenging to make it a priority during your graduate studies. You have to be intentional about it on your search, which starts when you apply. Asking questions early is always best. So, here are a few things to consider if travel or experiential learning outside your institution is a requirement for you.
1. Ask upfront about domestic or international travel opportunities.
Closed mouths don’t get fed! As you’re writing your personal statement, visiting for that first tour, calling admissions offices, etc. be sure to question them on any and all travel experiences students have done. Make it clear this is something you want and need to know if and how it is feasible. You can also ask if they have students who are willing to talk to interested students (i.e. you) via email. They’re not going to know your interests if you don’t ask.
2. Apply to universities abroad.
If you want to explore another continent or country while in grad school, an easier way is to attend grad school abroad. From Canada to Asia, there are tons of universities that accept international students and even have full-ride scholarships available. Some of these include the John Loiello Scholarship (https://www.soas.ac.uk/registry/scholarships/john-loiello-afsoas-fish-scholarship.html), Schwarzman Scholars (http://www.schwarzmanscholars.org/scholars/2019/), and Mitchell Scholars (https://www.us-irelandalliance.org/). Look for your area and country of interest to see what’s out there.
3. Seek out graduate study abroad programs WITH funding.
In undergrad I made the mistake of not applying for enough scholarships to cover study abroad expenses. I didn’t do that this time. Once you find a grad program with study abroad opportunities, be sure to check for school-sponsored scholarships. The competition pool at school may be smaller than external scholarship money, meaning a higher chance of financial support for your experience.
4. Check both course opportunities and practicum/internships abroad.
Depending on your program interest, the time commitment of an international opportunity may vary. When applying, look to see what types of study abroad opportunities are offered. Can you go on a short-term trip over winter break or spring break to take a class? Are there practicum or internship requirements you can do out-of-state or outside the country? Inquire on the process for these experiences too. You may have to start the application during your first semester and you want to be prepared.
5. Research the faculty and see where they have research.
For those who are in an internationally-focused program, check out where professors are doing their research and apply to a Research Assistant! This can be work you do during the school year, that carries over winter, spring, or summer break. Applying to be a Graduate Assistant can also lead you down this path too. You never know, they may have grant money to pay for part of your trip as well.
While these are a few ways to incorporate travel into grad school, you can still travel without going abroad for a class, research, or internship. Upon applying (and being admitted, I’m calling it for you), you will have breaks to book a trip in the name of self-care. However, if you want to be sure it’s included, asking questions to meet the right people can make it easier.
A year after applying, and currently at the mid-semester mark of first semester, the travel opportunities within my grad program are on the rise. The research, questions, and planning are coming together, making 2019 look bright. Hopefully, your search and application process with be just as fruitful. Good luck.
About the Author
Sojourner is a first-year MSW student at Washington University in St. Louis, with a concentration in International Development and a specialization in Social Entrepreneurship. When she's not studying, you can find her traveling and writing on her blog, Sojournies (www.sojournies.com).