When To Study Abroad - Communication Studies Major

Studying in a foreign country allows you not only to experience a new place and culture, and to work on completing degree requirements -- it also allows you to study the intricacies of how meaning is constructed in a different cultural context than the one you live in now.

Different languages, customs, and daily activities all speak volumes about the way we and other people communicate, on both personal and national levels, and experiencing them first-hand is an immense benefit both to your studies and to your growth as a person and professional in an increasingly global community.

Trevor Nelson

Pipers at Holyrood Castle, Edinburgh

Many study abroad options are available. From short-term, faculty-led programs to full-year enrollment at a foreign university, there are plenty of opportunities to earn credit. You can fulfill Communication Studies requirements, take General Education classes, explore general electives in subjects that interest you, or immerse yourself in language study and internships.


Study abroad during your first year of college is not usually recommended. There are many transitions you need to make between high school and university. Besides, you must earn 30 semester hours before declaring the Communication Studies major. First year students usually concentrate on completing General Education Program requirements or exploring different disciplines by taking lower-level elective credit. You might consider studying abroad as early as the summer following your first year at the University of Iowa.



Sophomore year is a great time to study abroad. Because 36:001 Core Concepts must be taken at the University of Iowa and is a pre-requisite to many Communication Studies classes, 36:001 fills

up quickly and you may not be able to take it during fall semester of your Sophomore year. This would be an excellent time to study abroad, completing any remaining General Education Program requirements, including foreign language. You could also take classes that will transfer toward your Communication Studies degree, so long as 36:001 is not a pre-requisite for the UI classes you would be fulfilling by taking course work overseas.


Consider taking courses abroad that will count toward Research & Criticism, Context, Practice, or Upper level courses for your degree. If you have waited until your Junior year to declare Communication Studies as a major, consult with your academic advisor to make sure you will earn the credit you need to graduate on time.


What applies to Juniors also applies to Seniors, but make sure you will meet all of your requirements – if you leave an essential course until you return from abroad, the course may be full, delaying your graduation. Consult your advisor about your plan if you want to study abroad your senior year to be sure it’s possible.


Remember there are many options for you to go abroad during the summer, if you can't seem to fit study abroad in during the school year. Consider a short-term programs if a semester or academic year doesn't fit your schedule!

General Education and Electives

Most study abroad locations offer coursework that can apply towards the General Education Program requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Humanties, Historical Perspectives, Fine Arts, Foreign Civilization & Culture, and foreign languages are some of the most common "gen-eds" that students complete overseas. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires that all majors acquire either fourth-semester competency or the departmental equivalent in a foreign language. Study Abroad is authorized to approve GEP courses, so please consult your study abroad advisor for information about the approval process.

Taking elective courses abroad is exciting because you have the chance to explore a topic you might never be able to study in the U.S.

Communication Studies Major Requirements and Electives

Because there is only one required course in the Communication Studies major, you have many options for fulfilling your degree requirements. Study abroad is a great way to take courses in your emphasis area or to earn Communication Studies elective credit.

The Core Concepts course, 36:001, must be taken at the University of Iowa after you have completed the initial 30 semester hours required before declaring the Communication Studies major. These 30 semester hours are usually general education requirements taken during your freshman year. If you are a second-semester sophomore or a junior who has not declared Communication Studies as your major, you will need to speak to your academic advisor as soon as possible if you wish to study abroad and graduate in four years because requirements for the Communication Studies major cannot be completed in fewer than four semesters. You will need to be quite certain that you are meeting Communication Studies requirements through the courses you take abroad, or you may require extra time to finish your degree.

Foreign Language

Study abroad is an excellent opportunity for Communication Studies majors to fulfill foreign language requirements or to pursue a minor in a language. A minor, or a second major, in a foreign languages is an excellent supplement to your Communication Studies degree, and the department highly encourages this route. Also, there is no better way to learn a language than complete immersion!


The Communication Studies department greatly encourages students to pursue internships abroad. The benefits to you are enormous—for one thing, you will get out of the classroom and into society while still earning major credit toward your "practice" requirement. Internships — particularly abroad — add so much to your resume, that potential employers will give you more consideration than they otherwise might. Those reasons are just for starters. Be sure to consult the Communications Studies academic adviser to learn about the requirements for an overseas internship that will earn major credit!


The Communication Studies department highly encourages you to pursue an internship abroad. The out-of-classroom experience you will gain is invaluable, academically, for your career, and personally.

Students who wish to apply internship credit earned on a study abroad program to the Communication Studies major need to enroll in 36:028 for the semester they are overseas and complete additional assignments, such as a journal and final paper. Contact the academic adviser in Communication Studies for complete details.

36:001 Core Concepts

You need to take 36:001 Core Concepts at the University of Iowa, and it must be taken after you have earned 30 credits at the University and have declared the Communication Studies major. You might need to consider taking courses abroad that will satisfy requirements for the major, and that do not have 36:001 as a prerequisite.

Foreign Language

A second major or a minor in a language is an excellent companion to Communication Studies.


Since 36:101 Honors Workshop is only offered during the fall semester, if you want to study abroad during your senior year you will need to consult your academic advisor. Something can probably be worked out to get you abroad. Please note that you cannot write your thesis abroad, but you are encouraged to do research abroad.

The programs listed below were selected because they offer particularly strong courses in communication studies, because they offer a wide variety of general education course, or because they are good for language study.

While we suggest you look at these highlighted programs first, feel free to browse the programs section of the Study Abroad website, explore an online directory of study abroad programs, and consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room.


CIEE Argentina
(requires prior Spanish language study)


Regents Semester in Australia
The Iowa Regents Semester in Australia offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at the University of Newcastle or the University of Tasmania. 


CIEE Brazil, Salvador de Bahia Program
(requires prior Portuguese language study)


CIEE Chile, Santiago Program
(requires prior Spanish language study)


Aalborg Exchange


Institute of Italian Studies at Centro Lorenzo de Medici in Florence


CIEE Lima Liberal Arts Program
(requires prior Spanish language study)

South Korea

Korea Exchange Ewha Womans University
Ewha Womans University was founded in 1886, in what is now the Chong-dong district of Seoul. It is now the world’s largest university for Women. Courses are taught in English.

Korea Exchange Ajou University
English language program.

United Kingdom

The University of Lancaster
The University of Lancaster’s Media and Cultural Studies program is a particularly good choice for Communication Studies majors.

Swansea University

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales
The program begins with a three-week course on British life and politics, after which students enroll in regular courses offered by the University of Wales-Swansea.

Communication Studies majors have transferred several courses from the exciting school of Media and Communication Studies at Swansea.

IES London Program

ISEP Exchanges

ISEP is a network of 275 colleges in 39 countries, offering exchange programs in English and other languages.