Take your passion for journalism and communication wherever you go! The School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) strongly encourages students to take advantage of our own or one of GW’s many study abroad opportunities. As a student at a foreign university, you gain insight into another culture and an invaluable understanding of the way globalization affects communication.
Undergraduate Study Abroad Requirements
Studying abroad requires planning because many of SMPA’s required courses and electives are not offered anywhere else. GW students need at least 45 credits to participate in study abroad programs with 85 percent of GW study abroad participants choosing to go abroad their junior year. You should discuss study abroad plans with your adviser as early as possible so that you are able to schedule the courses required for graduation.
International Media Seminar in Paris
The goal of the short-term International Media Seminar program is to combine the excitement of spending spring break in Paris with a substantial and unique learning experience, focused on the changing nature of communications media in a new global environment.
During the course of the spring break, students meet with some two dozen international media leaders, including journalists, executives, scholars, and government officials. Meetings are held in classrooms, media offices, production facilities and private homes — offering a once in a lifetime behind-the-scenes experience. Free time is also scheduled into the program so that students have the chance to see the sites and enjoy the city.
Over the last decade, students at the George Washington University have been able to participate in the Paris Seminar as part of a regular three-credit course SMPA 3195, "Globalization and the Media", open to all GW undergraduate and graduate students. The program is taught and chaired by Professor Lee Huebner. Student participants have found the Paris Media seminar to be a highlight of their university careers — introducing them to new places, new perspectives and new personalities. As one recent participant put it, "the Paris trip was life changing… the trip of a lifetime."
Because this course includes a week-long study abroad session, registration for the class is only available through the Study Abroad Office. The Washington, D.C. portion of the course meets on Tuesdays evenings before spring break and then less frequently after spring break.
You can view a detailed description of the course and trip (.pdf). You can also view the Spring 2017 itinerary (.pdf) and Spring 2017 course syllabus (.pdf). These plans vary slightly each year but are a good guide to what happens each March. The estimated overall cost of the trip, including the Study Abroad fee, travel, hotel, meals and incidental expenses, is about $2,800. Questions about the trip and the course can be addressed to Professor Huebner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both the course and the Paris Seminar are designed to give undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to study the global media landscape from a truly international perspective — not only in theory, but in fact. By talking with a wide array of experts who live and work in a foreign media environment, students are able to see familiar media issues in a new light — even as they become more familiar with other media cultures.
“It was an amazing week. If I could do it again next year, I would.”
“I felt like a kid in a candy store with all the speakers and visits. The seminar helped give me some focus as I continue down the path toward international journalism.”
“Since returning from the trip, I've kept in touch with many of (my classmates)... For six days I was fortunate enough to hear from some of the brightest media experts from around the globe.”
“The trip was beautifully organized and allowed students to explore the city intellectually and culturally.”
“A view of Paris I will never get again... it was so great that our group was invited into speakers' apartments and got to see such a genuine and personal view of Paris.”
When Paris Was My Home
Ashley Le, JMC '19, had a once in a lifetime opportunity to go inside the homes of media leaders in Paris and experience a taste of the city during spring break. She experienced the critical role that journalism and media play for starting a dialogue that works toward positive change.
Study Abroad FAQs
Yes, students admitted to an SMPA major in their sophomore year can still finish all their major requirements and study abroad. It does require some planning so see both a study abroad adviser and your SMPA adviser to discuss it.
You should start planning for study abroad during your sophomore year. Visit the GW Study Abroad Office to learn more about programs and opportunities.
No, you are not required to take courses that fulfill major requirements while you study abroad. Consider using your time abroad to learn about something different.
The School of Media and Public Affairs teaches excellent courses on journalism, media and political communication. We recommend that you focus on the courses that are interesting and unique to the program you have chosen. Study art history in Italy, learn about Southeast Asian culture in Singapore, study economics and politics at the London School of Economics.
However, you may also find that study abroad provides an opportunity to get a very different perspective on your major. You may explore how media operate in another part of the world or how political communication shapes a very different society.
Many of SMPA’s required and elective courses are not offered by foreign universities. That said, it is not uncommon to find a course that fulfills one of the JMC studies electives or PCM electives (for example, a course on comparative media). We do not recommend, however, that you plan on needing to take more than one or two courses toward the major requirements while you are abroad. See your SMPA adviser to discuss whether potential courses are likely to fulfill major requirements.
Political communication students can often find a political science course that will count toward the two upper-level required political science classes needed for majors.
For students operating under the old general curriculum requirements, we recommend that you save GCR requirements such as courses in the humanities or foreign culture and take them while you are abroad. For students operating under the new G-PAC requirements, classes taken abroad will not count for G-PAC.
Some universities and programs available to GW students studying abroad offer courses in journalism. You are more likely to find a course that transfers as an elective than as required course for the major. Credit transfer for courses similar to SMPA courses is not guaranteed. These programs include but are not limited to:
- American University Cairo
- American University Paris
- Arcadia London Now
- Bond University
- CIEE Alicante
- CIEE Amsterdam
- CIEE Lima
- City University
- Curtin University of Technology
- Danish Institute for Study Abroad
- Federal University of Parana
- Griffith University
- IES Amsterdam
- IES Barcelona
- James Cook University
- Korea University
- La Trobe University
- Monash University
- Murdoch University
- National University Singapore
- Queensland University of Technology
- Sciences Po International Journalism Program (GW Paris)
- Southern Cross University
- Syracuse University London
- University of Botswana
- University of Greenwich
- University of Leeds (GW England)
- University of Queensland
- University of Stirling
- University of Tasmania
- University of Technology, Sydney
- University of the Arts, London
- University of Ulster
- University of Westminster
- Victoria University of Wellington
We strongly recommend that you visit the professor who teaches the course at SMPA if you think a course you will take has an equivalent SMPA class. Bring a copy of the proposed syllabus so the professor can let you know in advance if the course is equivalent. This will avoid any surprises upon your return. The Study Abroad Office will explain the credit transfer process at length before you leave.
Exchange Program with Freie Universität Berlin
The School of Media and Public Affairs has an exchange program with the Institute for Media and Communications Studies at Freie Universität Berlin (FU) in Berlin. FU has one of the premier programs in communication and politics in Europe. Students in the M.A. in Media and Strategic Communication program can count up to nine credits at FU towards their GW degree. Internship opportunities are also available.
Applications to the program are due the semester before the intended travel. SMPA typically receives three FU students in the Fall semester. For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies Matthew Hindman at email@example.com.