When To Study Abroad - History Major

Focus your studies by living in the location where pivotal events have occurred. Live and work within the cultures that have shaped world history. Study abroad allows you to deepen your understanding of the past and the present, and to view historical processes from within the context of culture.

A wide variety of history courses taken abroad are transferrable for the history major, so get creative about what you would like to achieve and learn. Maybe you want to research Postwar Soviet Life in Moscow, study the Roman Coliseum up close, or discuss daily life with the locals in Latin America while living there yourself?

If American history is your interest, why not take a course or two abroad about American history from a completely different perspective, or study one of the hundreds of cultures and histories that come together to form the United States? Studying historical places, periods, and people overseas can supplement your studies and understanding like no other experience can.

As a History major, many study abroad options are available to you. From short-term, faculty-led programs to full-year enrollment at a foreign university, there are plenty of opportunities to earn credit toward your degree, take General Education classes, or explore general electives in subjects that interest you. Other exciting opportunities include language study and internships.

As a History major, it is relatively easy to go abroad at any point during your time at the UI. Spending an academic year overseas is highly encouraged.

Despite the flexibility of the major’s requirements, you should still think carefully about when a semester or year abroad will best benefit your academic and future careers.  If you come into the major later in your time at the UI, you will need to do some careful planning, but study abroad is still possible, and very useful!


Your first year is best spent fulfilling general education requirements, prerequisites to your history degree, and a foreign language course or two. Consider your historical interest, perhaps to organize your study abroad around a particular location or language as you shape your History studies.


Sophomore year is a good time to study abroad.  Virtually any history course you take abroad will count towards your major – you just have to get it approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in History.  If you haven’t taken the Colloquium before you go abroad, you should try to take it as soon as you come back.


This is also a great year to study abroad. Again, most of the history courses completed abroad will count towards your major.


Your Senior year is also a good time to study abroad; just double-check that all of your requirements will be met upon your return for graduation.


If you are writing an Honors thesis, it is typical for you to take the Honors thesis seminar during the spring semester of your Junior year, which allows you to research your thesis during the following summer and write thesis during the fall of your senior year. This is, however, flexible; you can do your research abroad during your Junior year and take the seminar during your Senior year. Talk to your academic advisor in the History department about this.

Be aware, that the history department has additional funding for honors’ research abroad, allowing you to combine study abroad and research for the honors’ thesis if you choose this route.


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 will count towards General Education Program requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Historical Perspectives, Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts, and Foreign Civilization & Culture Gen-Eds are relatively easy to complete overseas. Additionally, CLAS requires that all majors acquire either fourth-semester competency or the equivalent in a foreign language.

If you need to complete your foreign language requirement, you could consider studying abroad to immerse yourself in a language and complete this requirement in as little as one semester overseas.

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

History Major Courses

Almost all of the history courses you take abroad will count towards your history major. A minimum of 18 semester hours must be taken at the University of Iowa or earned as resident credit, while a maximum of 18 semester hours may be transfer or study abroad credit.


The Colloquium course may be taken at any point in your studies, but it is recommended that you take the course early on.

The History major is extremely flexible in allowing students to go abroad. There are a few things to consider when planning your time abroad.

Capstone Courses

If you intend to take a capstone course to supplement your basic major requirements, please note that it must be taken at the University of Iowa.


If you are planning to go abroad but have not taken the Colloquium, consider taking it as soon as possible so you won’t find yourself unable to get into the course when you return from abroad.


The History major is extremely flexible in allowing you to study abroad, so consider the benefits of studying up close the history of a civilization in any location. There are programs available to you anywhere in the world.

Studying overseas lets you take classes you would probably never be able to take here at home. You might consider taking American History classes abroad.  You may gain perspectives unimagined in the U.S. classroom.

The programs listed below are administered by the University of Iowa and are based at foreign universities with comprehensive HIstory departments, or are short-term faculty-led programs.

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.


Iowa 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.  Participants are fully integrated academically and socially with their Australian peers.  A large selection of History course work is available.

Australian History


ISEP Exchanges
Go to one of 15 member institutions in France,  including the Université des Antilles et de la Guyanne with campuses in Martinique and Guyanne, as well as Université de Fribourg and Université de Lausanne in French-speaking Switzerland. All have strong History departments. Students attend classes from the regular degree programs for local students. Advanced level French is required.


American College of Thessaloniki
Courses are taught in English, UI students earn resident credit. This is the leading center for international affairs in Northern Greece and the Southern Balkans, and students benefit from a diverse student body. The campus primarily hosts Greek students as well as international students from other European countries.


Iowa Regents Semester in Cork
This semester or academic year program offers students the opportunity to enroll in a wide range of courses in a variety of disciplines at the University College Cork, one of the oldest universities in Ireland. Students are fully integrated academically and socially with their Irish peers. The University College Cork was founded in 1845, and over 12,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students take courses in more than 60 different departments.


Meiji University Exchange
Students take a combination of classes for foreigners and regular classes in the Department of History and Geography of School of Arts and Letters. Fourth year Japanese is required.

Latin America

ISEP Exchange
ISEP Exchange to Latin American member institutions in Argentina (Universidad del Salvador), Costa Rica (Universidad Nacional de Heredia), and Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autonoma del Estado de Puebla - UPAEP, or Unviersidad de Guanajuato.) Students attend classes from the regular degree programs for local students. Advanced level Spanish is required.


ISEP Exchange at University of Malta
Students attend classes from the regular degree programs for local students.  Classes are taught in the two official languages of this member of the British Commonwealth, Maltese and English, with about 70% of classes taught in English.  From its vantage point in the middle of the Mediterranean, the island itself has a rich history of interaction with Europe since Roman times, and the University has a strong History Department, with many offerings on the history of the Mediterranean basin.

United Kingdom

Iowa Regents Semester in Scotland
This semester or academic year program offers undergraduates the opportunity to enroll in a wide range of courses in a variety of disciplines at the University of Edinburgh, one of the finest universities in the United Kingdom in one of Europe's most exciting cultural centers. Students are fully integrated academically and socially with their Scottish peers.

The University of Edinburgh is a venerable institution -- founded in the 1850s -- and has forged a special position in academia. Its national and international reputation is excellent, and it has a large, diverse, and multinational student body. It is Scotland's leading research university and is ranked 5th overall out of 115 U.K. institutions.

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales
The Regents Semester in Wales offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at a British university. Students are integrated academically and socially with their British peers at the University of Wales-Swansea. The program begins with a three-week course on British life and politics, after which students enroll in regular courses offered by the university.

Semester at Queen’s University Belfast
The University of Iowa's fall/spring semester program at The Queen's University of Belfast (QUB) provides a unique opportunity for students to experience firsthand Northern Ireland's rich historical and cultural traditions and spectacular coasts, mountains and countryside--as well as its tumultuous civil and political climate.

Known for its excellence in undergraduate programs, QUB ranks with the best of the UK's "red brick" universities, established in 1845 by Queen Victoria. With a strong interest in interdisciplinary studies and with new additions to their already impressive range of courses, QUB has established itself as one of the most progressive educational institutions in the United Kingdom.

The UK Exchanges
The UK Exchange Program is a reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and the Universities of Hull, Lancaster, Birmingham, and Strathclyde.  The program allows UI undergraduates to undertake a year of study in England or Scotland while fully integrated with local students in student housing and regular classes. Direct enrollment at the host institution is particularly suited to students prepared to take upper-level course work in both their major and/or a secondary field of interest.