Study Abroad and SMPA Majors

Frequently Asked Questions

Students at Eiffel TowerShould I try to study abroad?

Definitely! The School of Media and Public Affairs strongly encourages our students to take advantage of GW’s many study abroad opportunities. As a student in a foreign university, you gain insight into another culture, fluency in a foreign language, and invaluable understanding of the way globalization affects communication. That said, studying abroad requires planning because many of SMPA’s required courses and electives are not offered anywhere else.

When do most students study abroad?

GW students need to have earned at least 45 credits to participate in the study abroad program. 85% of GW students who study abroad go during their junior year. We recommend going abroad during your junior year or at the latest, first semester senior year. You should discuss study abroad plans with your advisor long in advance so that you are able to schedule the courses required for graduation.

Where can I get information on the study abroad programs available to GW students?

Information about study abroad at GW, including lists of programs available to GW students can be found on the Study Abroad Office’s website.

You may also want to visit the Study Abroad Office or attend one of their “Study Abroad 101” sessions.

If I'm admitted to SMPA as a sophomore, can I go abroad for a semester and still finish my required SMPA major courses?

Yes, students admitted to an SMPA major in the sophomore year can still finish all their major requirements and study abroad. It does require some planning so see both a study abroad advisor and your SMPA advisor to discuss it.

When should I start planning for study abroad?

You should start planning for study abroad during your sophomore year. Visit the Study Abroad Office to learn more about programs and opportunities.

Do I have to take classes in my major while I am studying abroad?

Students gather in the Parisian apartment of CNN's Jim BittermannNo, you are not required to take courses that fulfill major requirements while you study abroad. One of the reasons to study abroad is to learn things you cannot get here at GW. We recommend 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. The School of Media and Public Affairs teaches excellent courses on journalism, media and political communication – that is our expertise. Consider using your time abroad to learn about something different.

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.

Again, it’s all in the planning, so think ahead.

Can I get courses that will fulfill major requirements while studying abroad?

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 advisor 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.

At which schools can I study journalism?

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

Students on River SeineHow can I transfer credit for abroad courses that I think are equivalent to SMPA classes?

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.

Where can I get more information?

The Study Abroad Office and website have a number of resources for students. They are the experts on study abroad and their advisors can help walk you through the processes. We recommend you make an advising appointment with a Study Abroad advisor. The website can be found online. The Office for Study Abroad is located at 812 20th Street, NW.