Officials add new site to international bachelor’s degree program

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

Sophomore Maddie Powder, who will begin the Global Bachelor's Program in the spring, said the program is an opportunity to learn about the world and build connections with people from other cultures.

Updated: Sept. 25, 2018 at 11:24 a.m.

A two-year-old, multi-semester study abroad program will be expanded to accommodate increased student interest.

The Global Bachelor’s Program – which enrolls students in three semesters abroad, with one in Shanghai, China – will add a second launchpad location in Belfast, Northern Ireland next year, officials said. Study abroad experts said allowing more students to spend multiple semesters abroad in various locations can give them a leg-up in the workforce because they can reflect on differing cultural experiences.

Donna Scarboro, the associate provost for international programs, said the program has become “popular and competitive” since its launch in 2016. Roughly 60 students have applied for the program each year and about 30 students study at Fudan University in Shanghai each spring, she said.

Scarboro said officials will add a site in Belfast to “accommodate the growing student demand as well as attract students who are interested in studying in another part of the world.” Students will begin the program attending Queen’s University during the fall semester, where they will study peace and conflict resolution and visit historical sites of the Troubles, a conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century, Scarboro said.

“We hope that by starting a second cohort, we can accommodate the growing student demand as well as attract students who are interested in studying in another part of the world,” Scarboro said in an email.

Junior Mahalia Smith, who spent last semester in China and is spending her second semester in Tanzania, said she wanted to enroll in the program to travel to multiple places while maintaining her studies.

“My program in Tanzania is experiential so we don’t stay in one specific place, rather travel around to various national parks and locations to complete field work and language courses,” Smith said.

Sophomore Maddie Powder, who is leaving for Shanghai in the spring, said the program is an opportunity to learn about the world and build connections with people from other cultures. She said she wants to be in a different country for a long period of time to become fluent in Arabic and build more experiential learning as an international affairs major.

“I think college is about finding out who you really are and taking steps to achieve your goals,” Powder said. “As an international affairs and economics major, I feel like this will really give me an unparalleled experience.”

Sophomore Emily Sill, who is also beginning the program in the spring, said her three semesters away will be “a big resume builder” because she can note any internships she may take abroad as an international business student.

She added that she chose to enroll in the program because she’ll be automatically accepted to the GW School of Business’s fall Paris program, which Sill said is “one of the most competitive and best business study abroad opportunities you can do through GW.”

“Any freshman who’s interested in wanting to see the world and is a little bit scared in, ‘how am I going to be able to do it?’” she said. “This program gives you the straightforward, ‘here’s how we’re going to get you to see the world, to stay on track, to feel comfortable about your decision.’”

International student affairs experts said that long-term study abroad programs can make students appear more prepared for an increasingly global world by allowing students to delve into internships or work abroad.

Stacie Berdan, an international careers expert and global marketing consultant, said the Global Bachelor’s Program allows students to learn from experiences, like volunteering or internships, that build students’ resumes and make them appear more competitive among employers. Berdan said that in the long-term, the program yields specific benefits, like fluency in a certain language, that one semester might not provide.

“You begin to get comfortable with the diversity, the unexpected things that may or may not happen,” she said. “You begin to make more friends and network.”

Tyra Liebmann, the associate vice president for academics and enrollment in the Office of Global Programs at New York University, said study abroad can provide real-world experiences that mirror the reality of the work environment. By situating students outside campus for a longer period of time, they often appear more hirable because they can reflect on their experiences with other cultures, she said.

NYU also has a long-term program where students can spend up to a full academic year abroad in cities like Abu Dhabi and Paris.

“Engaging in other parts of the world can develop students intellectually, academically and personally in ways that where remaining in one zone, one environment can’t necessarily,” Liebmann said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
A previous version of this article stated that Belfast is in Ireland. It is in Northern Ireland. We regret this error.

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