The practice of pharmacy requires an understanding of patients as individuals. Each patient will have their own personal values and beliefs about the broader healthcare system and how they see themselves fitting into it. Each healthcare system is also a reflection of the cultural context it is situated within. Study abroad provides a great opportunity for pre-pharmacy students to connect their coursework to a broader global context and to gain an appreciation for the importance of culture.

Pre-pharmacy students pursue different types of goals while studying abroad. Some choose programs that offer course equivalents to complete some of the required prerequisites. Some choose to comparatively study healthcare systems across multiple locations. Some choose to focus on language learning and cultural studies to foster a better understanding of their patients’ diverse backgrounds. These experiences will all serve you well as a student preparing to apply to a PharmD program and then going on to clinical practice.

There are many study abroad options available to pre-pharmacy students. From short-term, faculty-led programs to a semester of direct enrollment in an international university, there are plenty of opportunities for you to pursue your academic and extracurricular interests abroad.

The College of Pharmacy encourages students to engage in experiential learning opportunities such as study abroad, internships, research, and service learning which allow students to develop real world skills related to major global health issues. These experiences help students define and achieve their post-graduation career goals. Importantly, the college supports student involvement in experiential learning only if it is conducted through reputable organizations which uphold ethical and health standards for both students and local populations worldwide.

To aid you in coordinating study abroad with your pre-pharmacy requirements, this page offers advice about when to study abroad (see the "Timing" tab), how to fulfill your academic requirements abroad (see "Academics"), and how to choose a study abroad program best suited to your needs (see "Programs"). 

In general, it is never too early to begin planning your study abroad experience. If you start planning well in advance then that may help give you more options and more flexibility in your academic schedule when you get further along in your program. Feel free to visit the Study Abroad office to begin planning during your first semester on campus, or even earlier if you can.

Most students aim to complete all of their prerequisite course requirements in two years. This can make it challenging, though not impossible, to study abroad for a semester. As it is strongly recommended that students complete their general biology and chemistry sequences at UI you will need to take this into consideration when planning out your academic schedule.

Summer or winter break is an ideal time for pre-pharmacy students to study abroad. By studying abroad during a break, students should be in a better position to complete their prerequisite requirements during the regular academic year and help themselves stay on track.

Students who choose to complete the prerequisite course requirements in three years will have more flexibility to be able to study abroad for a semester, though these students will still need to pay attention to biology and chemistry course sequencing.

Most students apply to PharmD programs in the fall semester before the year in which they are seeking admission. If you will be studying abroad during the PharmD application period and applying to the UI PharmD program, you are encouraged to contact the UI PharmD Admissions office well in advance to discuss your best options. With advance planning, it may be possible to complete your interview remotely, for example, if you will not be able to interview in person.

Many PharmD programs offer study abroad opportunities, too! You may prefer to explore those options in lieu of—or in addition to—study abroad options for while you are working on your prerequisite courses.

There are not any restrictions that courses in the pre-pharmacy prerequisite course requirements must be taken at UI. However, it is strongly recommended that students complete the general biology and chemistry sequences at UI (CHEM:1110 and CHEM:1120; BIOL:1411 and BIOL:1412).

Courses that would be good candidates to try to find equivalencies for in study abroad course offerings include Microeconomics, Calculus, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Statistics, and Physics. Consult the pre-pharmacy academic advisor in advance to see if courses being offered abroad might be able to be pre-approved to count towards the prerequisite requirements.

Students are advised to pay careful attention to the difference between resident credit programs (i.e., issued on the University of Iowa transcript) and transfer credit programs (i.e., transcript is not from the University of Iowa). Study abroad courses that yield resident credit will affect UI GPA. Consult a Study Abroad advisor to determine which programs offer transfer credit and which offer UI resident credit.

General Education courses can also be taken abroad. Some of the GE requirement areas are relatively easy to find pre-approved courses for in study abroad offerings (e.g. World Languages, Social Sciences). See the General Education Program advising page for more information or ask Study Abroad staff for program suggestions.

Pre-pharmacy students are encouraged to complete internships, service-learning courses, and research while studying abroad. General advice about internships is available on our Internships page. General advice about conducting research abroad is available on our Undergraduate Research Abroad page.

If you are contemplating the option of getting a BA/BS degree instead of applying to the PharmD program, we recommend speaking to the academic advisor for your chosen BA/BS program during planning to get a sense for how well study abroad would fit into your BA/BS plan of study.

Students who are seeking health-related service opportunities should take steps to safeguard their future professional reputations by following good practice standards that limit duties to those they are qualified to perform. For example, pre-medicine students are not qualified to practice medicine and should not participate in direct patient care. Students participating in health-related experiences are encouraged to complete the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS) course which is free online through the University of Minnesota to help them evaluate their limits and role in the community they plan to serve.

Pre-pharmacy students may conduct research abroad. Because it can be difficult to navigate life in an international setting, it is recommended that students travel abroad via a UI-sponsored or other accredited program that will provide them with basic infrastructural support (e.g. housing, access to public transportation, embassy contact, etc.). Many study abroad programs incorporate research and internship components. It is also possible to use time in a program to familiarize oneself with the culture of the area and establish contacts, then return to complete an internship or research project at a later time.

Various study abroad scholarships are available for UI students. Information about these scholarships is available on our Costs & Funding page.

After reading through this MAP, make sure to check out our Steps to Studying Abroad page to learn about our Discover Study Abroad sessions and how to start planning your time abroad. Ideally, you should begin to plan your study abroad experience at least two semesters in advance of your departure date. Be in touch with a Study Abroad advisor and your academic advisor early in the planning process.

All students who study abroad must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Each program listed has coursework taught in English unless otherwise stated. In addition, each program has specific eligibility requirements that may include GPA, prerequisites, and/or class standing. Please see the specific program page on the Study Abroad website at



Iowa Regents Semester in Ireland
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

The Iowa Regents Semester in Ireland program allows Iowa students to spend a semester or academic year at the University College Cork. Students experience campus life in Cork, fully enrolled in classes with their Irish peers and living with students from Ireland and around the world in local student accommodations. Cork’s Chemistry, Mathematics, and Statistics departments offer courses that can help students complete prepharmacy requirements. Relevant courses include Principles of Human Structure; Cells, Biomolecules, Genetics, and Evolution; Calculus; and Introduction to Probability and Statistics.

United Kingdom

University of Kent Exchange
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Through this program UI students directly enroll at the University of Kent, living and studying with their British peers. The University of Kent’s strong science departments and robust course offerings make studying at Kent a great option for making progress toward pre-pharmacy requirements. Courses include Human Physiology and Disease; Molecules, Matter, and Energy; Animal Form and Function; and Introduction to Biochemistry.

Lancaster Exchange Program
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Through the Lancaster Exchange Program, Iowa students enroll at Lancaster University, becoming fully integrated into campus life with their British peers. Lancaster’s strong Biology, Chemistry, and Physics departments offer courses that can be applied to pre-pharmacy requirements. Courses include Organic Structures, Chemistry of the Elements, Human Physiology, and The Physical Universe.


South Korea

TEAN South Korea: Korea University
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year, Summer

TEAN facilitates direct enrollment for students at Korea University. Students can enroll in courses for prepharmacy requirements, general education credit, general elective credit, or Korean language. Relevant courses include Microeconomics, Calculus (with a lab), Biochemistry, Microbiology, and General Physics. Course offerings vary by semester.


SIT India Public Health, Gender, and Community Action
Fall, Spring

Key topics of the program include exploring public health challenges like water, sanitation, and the environment; investigating the management of diseases and mental health; and witnessing regional and grassroots approaches to healthcare access. Courses include Public Health: Key Determinants, Gender, and Equity; Health Rights Advocacy in South Asia; Hindi language; Field Methods and Ethics in Social Science and Health; and an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides an opportunity to study in greater depth an aspect of academic interest relating to the program.

SIT India Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices

Students gain a deep understanding of how India nurtures its vibrant, ancient traditional medicine systems while experiencing economic growth and modernization. This program examines many of the social, economic, cultural, and legal paradigms that provide a context for healthcare service delivery in India. Courses include Traditional Indian Medicine: Theory and Context and Field Study of Traditional Indian Healthcare Practices.



TEAN Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

The highly ranked University of New South Wales offers a wide variety of undergraduate courses in many health-related and STEM disciplines. Courses include Introductory Anatomy; Molecules, Cells and Genes; Fundamentals of Biochemistry; Introductory Medicinal Chemistry; Organic Chemistry: Mechanisms and Biomolecules; Statistics for Life and Social Sciences; and Human Physiology.

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

The University of Tasmania offers many health-related and STEM courses. Coursework at the University of Tasmania brings together case-based learning with a range of opportunities to expand students’ expertise. Courses include Human Anatomy and Physiology, Introductory Biochemistry, Pathology of Common Diseases, Physics for Health Sciences, Pharmacology, and Pharmacy Skills in Practice.

New Zealand

TEAN New Zealand: University of Otago
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

The University of Otago is a top-ranked STEM university offering a wide range of science and health courses. Students can select courses to provide them with a sound foundation in the scientific principles underpinning biomedical research. Courses include The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health, Statistical Methods, Foundations of Biochemistry, Introductory Pharmacology, Drug Discovery and Development, and Fundamental Pharmaceutical Science.

TEAN New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

Victoria University of Wellington is home to the Wellington Faculty of Health. Tātai Hauora is the newest college at the university and was established to deliver innovation in health teaching and research, with the aim of improving the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Courses include Biology of Disease, Medical Microbiology, Pharmacology, Organic Chemistry, Microeconomic Principles, and Health and Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand.


South Africa

IES Cape Town Health Studies

This program offers a wide range of health-related and STEM courses. Opportunities are available to volunteer on rotation at a selection of organizations, such as hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, and health-related NGOs. Courses include Chemistry for Medical Students, Cell Biology, Applied Human Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Infectious Disease and Vaccines.

SIT Madagascar Traditional Medicine & Healthcare Systems

During this program students explore plant-based and traditional medicine and examine how history, geography, biodiversity, and demographics shape traditional and allopathic healthcare. Visits to rural and urban allopathic healthcare centers, herbalist markets, schools of medicine, medical research institutions, and other relevant sites reinforce classroom learning. Courses include Social and Political Dimensions of Health, Malagasy language, and Healthcare Practice in Madagascar.

Latin America


CIEE Buenos Aires Community Public Health Program

This eight-week program is for students studying Spanish and any aspect of healthcare. The first four weeks provide classroom-based theory and language instruction. The second four weeks are done in the field at one of three offsite placements where students complete a practicum. Students must have four semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent to participate. All students take the following courses: Advanced Spanish Conversation and Grammar, Pre-Professional Healthcare Issues, and Community Health Practicum.

Dominican Republic

CIEE Santiago Community Public Health

This intensive eight-week program includes six weeks of language and healthcare courses. Students participate in a semi-urban community service practicum in an underserved area in Santiago while classes are in session. The program includes a ten-day clinical field rotation and a five-day urban stay. Students must have four semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent to participate. All students take the following courses: Advanced Spanish Conversation and Grammar, Pre-Professional Healthcare Issues, and Community Health Practicum.

Costa Rica

USAC San Ramón
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer

This program focuses on life and health sciences and cultural studies. Students can study Spanish, biology, and health and complete an internship or conduct research. Students take classes at the Sede de Occidente, the oldest satellite campus of the University of Costa Rica. Courses include Cell Biology (with a lab), Global Health, Independent Research, and Women’s Health: Global Health and Human Rights.

CIEE Monteverde Open Campus
Fall, Spring

CIEE’s campus on the edge of a cloud forest offers unparalleled opportunities for students to take full advantage of all that Monteverde offers. Two courses are taken during each six-week block, and UI students participate in all three blocks for 18 semester hours. There are no required courses and no prerequisites to participate in the program; however, some upper-level courses will have prerequisites for that topic. Courses include Global Health and Emerging Diseases; General Chemistry I (lab course); Family, Schools, and Child Development; Introduction to Biology I (lab course); General Chemistry II (lab course); Community and Public Health; Biology of Tropical Diseases; Directed Independent Research; and Service-Learning Project.