Biology is the study of life. What better way to study life than through travel and exploration?
Understanding the complexities of this diverse world and developing intercultural competencies will help you to function effectively in different contexts – personally, academically, and professionally. Employers want the skills study abroad provides: cross-cultural competence, language ability, ability to deal with people of diverse backgrounds, and flexibility in dealing with new situations. And research shows that students who studied abroad end up with higher salaries than those who did not.
Biological Sciences, 3rd year
Fall Semester of 2022 in Bologna, Italy
Completed: One course toward my major, 2 other GEs
I had a wonderful experience studying abroad and as a Bio Sci major I had the chance to learn about a different field (like humanities) with students of all different majors. I also had the opportunity to do biological research with a professor at my host university. One important thing to note is that as a Bio Sci major, there are many requirements and it is easy to “fall behind.” I would recommend scheduling classes as early as possible to make sure that studying abroad does not cause you to fall behind. However, I would highly recommend bio majors to study abroad to gain a new perspective and have a wonderful experience.
Biological Sciences (minor in Psychology & Management), 4th year
Summer 2021 Virtual Ireland & Summer 2022 Florence, Italy
Completed: Physics series & classes for minor
Taking physics over the summer was one of the best decisions for me. I ended up having more time to participate in extracurriculars my junior year and gain experience for my medical school applications. My experience in Florence was life-changing. It’s one thing being away from family, still in the same state, compared to leaving the country and experiencing a whole new culture with your college.
Biological Sciences, 5th year
Madrid, Spain; Academic year 2021-2022
Completed: Courses towards minors, major, and GE
I absolutely loved my time abroad. It was an unforgettable experience and a great opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. College is really the only time to do things like study abroad because of how easy it is to get a student visa, the guidance and support provided by UCEAP/your study abroad program, and the fact that financial aid goes with you. Scholarships are plentiful and there are specific ones designated specifically for study abroad students. A lot of people have the misconception that studying abroad as a STEM or bio major isn’t possible, and although it might be different and a bit more difficult to complete required coursework compared to your peers, I believe studying abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will broaden your horizons and open doors later down the road.
Human Biology Major, 3rd year
Florence, Italy; Summer 2022
Completed: 2 GE IV
I loved studying abroad and would definitely do it again. Going into study abroad as a human biology major was slightly scary, but I made the most amazing friends and memories while I was in Italy. I chose to study abroad so that I can learn more about a culture that was different than my own, as well as learn in a new environment that was completely foreign to me. Something I wish I had remembered before traveling is that you’re only at this point in your life once and to live each and every moment to the fullest. I had amazing opportunities while I was abroad, but I was so worried about other things, I forgot to look at the bigger picture. One of the hardest things about studying abroad was leaving my family and friends for that long, but it was such a rewarding experience that I now want to bring them to the places I visited while studying abroad, and tell them my stories and adventures. I don’t regret studying abroad at all and I recommend it to everybody I know.
Can I study abroad as a Bio major?
Yes! There are lots of programs to choose from, depending on your study abroad and academic goals. With appropriate planning, Bio Sci majors can study abroad and still complete their degree in 4 years. While experiencing and exploring another country, majors within the School of Bio Sci can still make progress toward their degree by taking courses toward major/minor requirements and/or GE’s through a UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) or other UC program. Bio Sci majors do have up to 5 years to complete their degree which allows flexibility for studying abroad goals other than making progress toward their degree.
When should I study abroad?
We recommend saving a study abroad experience for after your second year as a Bio major, or after completing the Bio Core (Bio Sci 93-99), Ghem, and OChem (recommended). The first 2 years of coursework is more structured and sequential, where an absence from UCI for a quarter or two could impact your timeline to graduate. Your 3rd & 4th (& 5th) years are more flexible, where your Upper Division Bio Sci course and Physics just need to be completed by the time you graduate.
It is also recommended to choose a Summer or Fall program if you are wanting to stick to a strict 4 year grad plan. With most study abroad programs on a semester system, a Fall program will overlap with Fall quarter at UCI, while a Spring program will overlap with Winter & Spring quarter. There are Summer, Fall, Spring, and year-long programs to choose from.
What can I take abroad?
The short answer is anything! Students can take courses for GE, minor, and/or major requirements, or courses just for personal enrichment, such as to learn/practice another language. Students could also participate in research or internship programs abroad. What program and curriculum is best for you depends on what your goals are for studying abroad! UCEAP gives you the option to filter for the type of program, or “Experience Type”, you are seeking.
Should I do a UCEAP/UC Program or Independent Program?
If your goal is to take courses toward your Degree (minor, major, or GE requirements), a UCEAP or other UC Program is the best option for you. UCEAP courses post on your UC transcript and get calculated into your UC GPA. Additionally, Financial Aid eligibility criteria are the same when studying abroad with UCEAP or studying at UCI.
Independent programs on the other hand are not eligible for financial aid, but are a great option for students seeking personal enrichment, or a particular experience, want to travel to a country not offered through UCEAP, or have dates, courses, cost, eligibility, etc. that better fit their needs. You might receive transfer credit (units post on your UCI transcript; course titles and grades will post on the transcript of the host institution) as determined by UCI Admissions, but these grades are not included in your UC GPA.
Can I take Bio Sci major-required courses abroad?
Absolutely! A study abroad program via UCEAP would be the best option as these are UC credit courses. You could opt for a pre-approved program like UCEAP’s Sussex Summer Physics, for example, or petition any Bio courses abroad for Upper Division Bio Sci credit at UCI, as students should plan to complete their core bio, Gchem, and Ochem at UCI.
Where can I find coursework previously taken through UCEAP?
The best places to check for study abroad courses students have taken in the past are the EAP Course Catalog: EAP course catalog link: https://uceap.universityofcalifornia.edu/course-catalog
And the UC Irvine Campus Credit Abroad catalog: https://uceap.universityofcalifornia.edu/campus-credit-abroad/uc-irvine-credit-abroad
Keep in mind, though you may see the course on the catalog(s), you still need to petition the course for major/degree credit if that’s what you are seeking to fulfill.
How do I petition my coursework for credit toward my degree?
Whether it is a GE or major course, please submit course equivalency petitions found on our Forms page: https://undergraduate.bio.uci.edu/student-affairs/forms/. Do your best to find an equivalent course at UCI you believe your abroad course is similar enough to. Try comparing and matching course descriptions using UCI’s General Catalogue. Preferably, you are able to submit a syllabus from the institution and/or course description that provides what topics are covered.
We recommend submitting petitions only once the institution’s course schedule in the term you plan to travel in is available so you know the courses you are petitioning are truly an option. Typically, petitions are submitted after you have already applied to the program.
You can also petition your courses after completing your study abroad program, though there is no guarantee for major/degree credit. Keep the course materials (i.e. syllabus, course descriptions) for your petition.
How & When should I apply?
Here you can find important deadlines and instructions on how to apply to your program: https://studyabroad.uci.edu/deadlines-apply/. Applications should be received 9-12 months prior to the start of the Study abroad program.
Am I required to meet with a Bio Sci Academic Advisor to talk about Studying Abroad?
An appointment is not required, but a Bio Sci advisor would need to sign your Academic Planning Form that you submit with your application. This can be emailed to any Bio Sci advisor to review and sign. You are of course welcomed to set up an appointment with an advisor to go over your Study Abroad plans and help answer your questions or with completing the Academic Planning form.
What financial aid is available for my study abroad experience?
Through UCEAP or UC program, your financial aid package at UCI during the regular academic year can be applied to the cost of your program. Aid is more limited in Summer. There is no financial aid for Independent Programs. For more information visit the UCI Study Abroad Finances page under “Can I get financial aid?”: https://studyabroad.uci.edu/finances/.
Does my study abroad coursework count toward Pre-health (i.e. Med, Dental, PA) admission requirements?
It can! Typically, programs will honor credit given by the undergraduate institution the student attended as long as it appears on their official transcript. For example, for the Physics Abroad program, UCI grants credit for 1 year of Physics toward a student’s degree requirement, and as a UCEAP program, appears on a UCI transcript. Given this, this has been accepted as fulfilling the one year Physics requirement for health professional programs.
If you have concerns about international coursework, it is best to check with an admissions counselor of the institutions you plan to apply to and/or with our office.
How are my study abroad courses reflected on my transcript?
Courses taken via a UCEAP or other UC program will appear on your UCI transcript under the term you had traveled abroad in, including grades and units. This can take about 3 months before it appears on your unofficial transcript via StudentAccess. These grades are calculated into your UC GPA.
Courses taken via an Independent program will appear on a separate transcript, and credit is determined by UCI Admissions once the transcript from the host institution is received. These grades are completely separate from your UC GPA.
When will my DegreeWorks be updated with my Study abroad/UCEAP courses?
Once you see your UCEAP or other UC program courses appear on your unofficial transcript (which can take about 3 months after program completion), please reach out to any Bio Sci Advisor to update your DegreeWorks as appropriate.