Special Considerations for Nursing major

Of all the disciplines involving the study of humans, Nursing is perhaps one of the most comprehensive. In addition to the human body, Nursing majors must understand human development, psychology, and sociology, as well as human communities and the way different health systems are defined in them. As a Nursing major, study abroad will provide you with firsthand experience of another culture that will broaden your understanding of humans and healthcare in the US and abroad.

Nursing students are encouraged to choose from a wide range of study abroad experiences. In the Recommended Programs section of this advising page, you’ll find recommendations for Nursing-related study abroad programs as well as advice about searching for programs relevant to other disciplines. Whatever your academic interest or need, there are plenty of study abroad options available to you.

As you know, Nursing is a rigorous major. You’ll need to plan your study abroad experience well in advance of your departure, and with your academic requirements in mind. To help you out, this page offers advice about when to study abroad and how to coordinate study abroad with your major requirements.

If you have a second major or are completing a minor, be sure to consider the Major Advising Page corresponding with your other area of study.

Various financial aid and scholarships are available to U of I undergraduates pursuing study abroad. Information about funding your study abroad experience is available here.

The best time for early admission students to study abroad is during either the fall or spring semester of your sophomore year. Competitive admission students can also study abroad during the first semester of their junior year. Once you enter the nursing major, you can only study abroad in the summer or over winter break. (Early decision students begin their nursing major courses in the fall of their junior year, and competitive admission students begin the nursing major in the spring.)

As you plan your study abroad experience, keep in mind that all of your nursing pre-requisite courses and general education requirements need to be completed before you enter your cohort. More information about coordinating study abroad with your major requirements is available here.

Be sure to discuss your study abroad plans early on with an academic advisor. S/he will help you come up with the best timeframe for planning your study abroad experience.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Nursing major requirements as you plan for study abroad. In general, whether you are on the Early Admission or Competitive Admission track, you must complete 128 semester hours while maintaining a 3.00 GPA.

While most of your major requirements must be fulfilled at the U of I, it’s possible that some can be substituted with courses taken abroad. Below is a breakdown of your major requirements in terms of which requirements you may be able to fulfill abroad. In general, keep in mind that a maximum of 64 s.h. hours of transfer credit can be applied toward your major. (Note that programs that offer resident credit, like the USAC San Ramon Program, will not count toward your maximum transfer hours.)

For more information about coordinating your study abroad experience with your academic requirements, contact your academic advisor: Tara Lamb is the nursing advisor for early decision students. You will want to check with your academic advisor in the Academic Advising Center if you are a nursing interest student on campus. If you have already been accepted into the College of Nursing, contact Linda Myers for advice about fulfilling academic requirements abroad.

Nursing Courses

All Nursing major courses must be completed at the University of Iowa.

Nursing Pre-Requisites & General Education Courses

Some of your nursing pre-requisites and general education requirements can be substituted with equivalent courses taken abroad. Just be sure to get the substitutions approved by the appropriate department before your departure.

The general education requirements you could likely find substitutions for are: International and Global Issues; Literary, Visual and Performing Arts; and Values, Society and Diversity


Also keep in mind that you can earn elective credit abroad.

Language Study Abroad

Nursing students are encouraged to participate in language study abroad. In an increasingly multi-lingual country (and an increasingly global-minded world), knowledge of a multiple languages is becoming more and more beneficial in the Health professions. If you are interested in completing language study abroad (for elective credit or as part of a minor), click here [link] for program recommendations. 

Nursing students should use common sense when participating in hands-on medical experiences abroad. While you are encouraged to participate in certain activities—like taking vitals, bathing, and feeding—you must not perform invasive medical procedures (e.g., immunizations) while abroad. Also keep in mind that licensure requirements are different in different countries, and you might not be provided with adequate supervision to legally perform many procedures.

Nursing students are encouraged to participate in a wide variety of study abroad experiences. While the recommended programs listed below are all relevant to health studies, students interested in pursuing coursework in a different discipline while abroad should browse the programs database on our website and/or consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room (located in the Study Abroad Office, 1111 University Capitol Centre) for ideas. If you are having a hard time narrowing your search, consult our Steps to Studying Abroad advising page and/or meet with a Study Abroad Advisor.

While your schedule will likely prevent you from participating in yearlong programs, plenty of semester-long, summer, and winter programs are available to you:

Semester-Long Programs   

Direct Enrollment in English-Speaking Universities (Semester-Long)

Summer & Short-Term Programs


School for International Training (SIT) Programs 


USAC San Ramon Costa Rica (Semester)

The USAC San Ramon Costa Rica Program has a minimum prerequisite of one year of college biology and is designed for science majors interested in learning more about ecology and conservation biology in Costa Rica. The program is administered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) of which the University of Iowa is a member, and enrolls approximately 30 students from various U.S. colleges and universities. The program offers English taught courses in tropical ecology, tropical marine biology, conversation biology, and environmental policy. Some classes have a related field study course that provides hands on experience in the subject. Students combine the science curriculum with Spanish language or literature classes designed by Tracks according to level. Students will expand their Spanish language skills through classroom study and personal interaction with the host culture in the homestay setting. The program offers a one week optional tour to northern Costa Rica and Nicaragua, or to southern Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro in Panama, depending on the session. Students can also complete an internship at the local hospital. UI students earn resident credit on this program.

USAC Reggio Emilia, Italy (Semester)

The Reggio Emilia program is ideal for students interested in studying Italian language, education, communications, and health issues in a charming midsize city in north-central Italy. With fewer than 200,000 inhabitants, and an award-winning university, Reggio Emilia is a perfect location for students looking to immerse themselves in Italian culture away from crowded tourist destinations. You can take courses in Italian language, health, education, and communications. 


Reciprocal exchange programs between the University of Iowa and English-speaking universities allow undergraduate students to spend a semester abroad and be fully integrated with students in student housing and regular classes.

University of Iowa students enroll in classes that are part of the regular curriculum at these universities. This means participating in a system that is significantly different from the U.S. broad-based, liberal arts education, both in terms of calendar and specialization of studies.

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia

The Iowa Regents Semester in Australia programs offer 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. Both programs begin with a weeklong orientation program that prepares students for the academic and cultural experience ahead. Students then enroll in regular courses offered by the university.

The University of Newcastle offers undergraduate courses in many health-related disciplines. Use the following codes to look up health-related courses in Newcastle’s Course Handbook.

BIOL: Biological Sciences, BIOS: Biostatistics, CLAM: Clinical Leadership and Management, EPID: Epidemiology, FSHN: Food Science and Human Nutrition, HLSC: Health Sciences, HPRO: Health Promotion, HUBS: Human Biosciences, MEDI: Medicine, MIDI: Midwifery, MRSC: Medical Radiation Science, NUDI: Nutrition and Dietetics, NURS: Nursing, OHSE: Occupational Health & Safety, ORHL: Oral Health, PDTY: Podiatry, PHAR: Pharmacy, PHTY: Physiotherapy, PSYC: Psychology, PUBH: Public Health

The University of Tasmania also offers many health-related courses. Use the following codes/program titles to search Tasmania’s online course database.

M3G: Biomedical Science, 73S: Biotechnology and Medical Research, M3S: Dementia Care, M3Q: Exercise Science, M3H: Health Science, M3R: Health Science – Environmental Health, M3J: Medical Science, M3N: Medicine and Surgery, H3D: Nursing, 53:A Paramedic Practice, M3F: Pharmacy, 53N: Psychology

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.

Edinburgh offers courses in the following health-related disciplines: Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Epidemiology, Genetics, Medical Sciences, Nursing Studies, and Psychology. You can look up individual courses offered in each of these disciplines here.

Lancaster University Exchange

Lancaster’s Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences offers several health-related undergraduate degree programs. Click on a program, then click on “Modules” to get an idea of what kind of courses are offered.

University of Birmingham Exchange

The University of Birmingham offers undergraduate several degree programs in Medical and Dental Sciences (including programs in Nursing, Pharmacology, Medicine and Medical Sciences, and Dentistry).

University of Hull Exchange

The University of Hull offers several undergraduate degree programs in Health and Social Care (including four specialized Nursing programs: Adult, Child, Learning Disability, and Mental Health). Hull’s other relevant degree programs include: Human Biology, Biomedical Science, Pharmaceutical Science, Chemistry with Molecular Medicine, Medical Engineering, and Psychology). You can look up more about each of these individual programs by searching for them in the University’s online course database. (Note that degree programs are called “courses” in British Universities.)

University of Strathclyde Exchange

The University of Strathclyde offers the following health-related undergraduate programs: Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Chemistry with Drug Discovery, Immunology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Pharmacy, and Psychology. You can learn more about each of these programs by looking them up here.

International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP)

Through the University of Iowa’s membership in ISEP, the International Student Exchange Program, UI students have the opportunity to study for a semester or academic year at international universities. Students on ISEP have access to the courses, services and activities of the host university as any local student. An ISEP coordinator facilitates housing arrangements and assists with registration. The program fee for study on ISEP Exchange is based on 12 s.h. of your regular UI tuition. UI students earn transfer credit on the ISEP program.

ISEP University of Ghana

The University of Ghana Exchange offers a program specifically for Health Sciences through which you can take courses related to adult health, community health, maternal and child health, and nursing.

ISEP Thompson Rivers University (Canada)

Exchange students can take courses at Thompson’s School of Nursing.

ISEP University of Ulster (Northern Ireland)

The University of Ulster offers many Nursing courses. Search for relevant courses here.


International Development: India (UI Faculty-Led Travel)

Various cities, India

The India Winterim is an intensive, three-week field-based program that provides students with the opportunity to learn from and directly interact with leading social entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions within India’s diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and geographical mosaic. Each course is based in or near one of several cities throughout India. This program is designed for undergraduate students, graduate students, and community members with related interests and experience.

Child Life Experiential Learning Program (UI Faculty-Led Travel)

Cape Town, South Africa

This program is a three-week faculty-led course based in Cape Town, South Africa. Students will have the opportunity to work with the Red Cross Children's Hospital, Maitland Cottage Home, and the Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital. Students interested in health and child life are welcome to participate, regardless of major or skill level. The program is offered every other summer.

Study Abroad Experience in Great Britain  (UI Faculty-Led Travel)

Every other spring break

The University of Iowa, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, offers a study experience in Great Britain every two years during Spring Break. It carries 2 s.h. of undergraduate or graduate credit. CEUs are also available through La Crosse.

The overall purpose of this popular study tour to Great Britain is to foster health-related linkages and partnerships between the United States and the UK. The tour provides an overview of the health care system offered through the National Health Service (NHS) and other providers in Great Britain and a comparison with the systems of health care delivery in the United States. It also provides an overview of health education and health promotion strategies in Great Britain and connects participants with key cultural aspects of Great Britain that have health-related impacts.

The program is led by Dr. Christopher Squier of the University of Iowa and by Dr. Gary D. Gilmore of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

CIEE Seville Language & Culture Summer Program (Spain)

This three, six or nine week program is designed to develop students’ Spanish language skills and to expose them to Spanish culture through an intense immersion experience. This is achieved through courses in Spanish language and culture, a conversational exchange program, a homestay program, and local visits and excursions. This program is administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), on behalf of an academic consortium of which the University of Iowa is a member. UI participants on the program join a group of students from other U.S. colleges and universities. Students have the opportunity to take one public health course per session.

USAC San Ramon Costa Rica (Summer)

The USAC San Ramon Costa Rica Program has a minimum prerequisite of one year of college biology and is designed for science majors interested in learning more about ecology and conservation biology in Costa Rica. During the summer, students can participate in one or both of two 5-week sessions. For each session, students typically enroll in one 3 s.h. course supplemented by 1 s.h. courses on various topics. English taught classes include International Political Economy, Conservation Biology, Tropical Ecology, Population Biology or Tropical Marine Biology, depending on the session. Spanish includes accelerated language study at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels including a section on Spanish for Medical professionals. Students can supplement their core 3 s.h. class with additional 1 s.h. classes touching on culture, dance, ecological sustainability and, for students with no prior Spanish, a basic introduction to Spanish language for survival. All courses are taught exclusively for program participants by local Costa Rican faculty, occasionally by a visiting U.S. faculty member from one of the USAC consortium institutions. The program offers some Saturday excursions in each session, as well as an optional five day tour to southern Costa Rica. UI students earn resident credit on this program.

USAC Reggio Emilia, Italy (Summer)

The Reggio Emilia program is ideal for students interested in studying Italian language, education, communications, and health issues in a charming midsize city in north-central Italy. With fewer than 200,000 inhabitants, and an award-winning university, Reggio Emilia is a perfect location for students looking to immerse themselves in Italian culture away from crowded tourist destinations. You can take courses in Italian language, health, education, and communications. 


CIREH International Summer Internship Program

UI-affiliated internships funded by the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training (MHIRT) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

USAC San Ramon Costa Rica (Semester)

Students who have taken third year Spanish or higher are eligible to complete an internship at San Ramon’s local hospital.


The School for International Training (SIT) offers study abroad programs that provide a field-based, experiential approach to learning. Students have the opportunity to participate in independent research projects, fieldwork, and intensive language classes. There are a small number of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members.

The following SIT programs would be excellent opportunities for Nursing majors:

China: Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Summer)

India: Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices (Summer)

Madagascar: Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices (Summer)

Argentina: Public Health in Urban Developments

Brazil: Public Health, Race, and Human Rights

Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment

India: Health and Human Rights

Jordan: Health and Community Development

Kenya: Urbanization, Health, and Human Rights

South Africa: Community Health and Scoial Policy

Switzerland: Global Health and Development PolicyVarious Locations: Health and Community