Study Abroad

We strongly encourage IS Majors to Study Abroad.  IS Majors need to consider the following:

  1. Explore different programs and watch this short video presentation. Visit our major advising page available from International Academic Programs (IAP) website.
  2. Meet with your IS Major advisor to learn how study abroad courses fit in the IS Major. You can also refer to IS Study Abroad Course Guidelines when choosing courses. Your IS Major advisor and your study abroad program advisor play different roles.
  3. Once you have enrolled in a study abroad program, review and submit the IS Major Study Abroad Worksheet. You will need to submit this worksheet to the IS Major advisor in order to have the classes you take abroad be considered for credit within the major. You should submit this form as soon as you have course syllabi.

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Difference between Study Abroad Advisor and IS Major Advisor

Sometimes students get confused regarding which advisor they should go to for what questions. You have two advisors and you will need to do paperwork for both IAP and the IS Major.

Your study abroad advisor (usually in the red gym) will help you with the study abroad application process, questions about how to register for classes at your host institution, and questions about course equivalencies for classes you take abroad. For example, if you are taking a class in France, and it is not in the course equivalency list, you will want to work with your IAP advisor to determine what might be the best department to use for a course equivalent at UW-Madison.

The IS Major Advisor does not address course equivalencies.  The course equivalency process involves communicating to IAP what courses you took abroad and how you’d like the courses to transfer back to UW-Madison (course equivalencies).  Please make sure you do this via your My Study Abroad account in a timely manner; note that your IAP Study Abroad Handbook provides information on this process.

The graphic below outlines common student questions associated with each advisor.

Exploring where to study abroad

Different study abroad programs will have different timelines and procedures for choosing your courses. See the Study Abroad website for specific program requirements. If you are just getting started, consider reading IAP’s major advising page for information about programs that previous IS students have participated in.  Please watch this short video presentation on how to study abroad with the IS Major that has been developed by IAP and IS advisors.

Choosing courses

For the IS Major, there are several things you need to keep in mind when picking classes.

1. Watch the video about how to select classes.

2. Do not simply try to match class equivalents to your DARS, you will find this process frustrating and ineffective.

3. When selecting your courses abroad, consider the content.  Review your DARS and see what types of IS credit you need (issues or electives). Then, refer to the IS Study Abroad Course Guidelines when choosing courses. This process will be easier than trying to match classes taken abroad to courses on the IS course lists. A total of 20 credits taken during study abroad can be counted towards requirements in the IS Major.

4. Fill out the study abroad worksheet and submit this to the IS Major advisor.  An IS Major Advisor will use this information to let you know if and how your courses fit within the major. You will need to send a syllabus (translated into English) for evaluation. In general, most courses will come into the IS Major as electives or issues. Please note that you cannot take track core classes while abroad. We strongly suggest that you work with an Advisor early in your study abroad process so that you can select classes that you know will count towards your major. If you want to know how a class taken “fits” with the IS Major, you need to email the IS Major advisor with a completed study abroad worksheet and a copy of the syllabus translated into English.

5. Pay attention to how the classes you are taking abroad meet degree requirements. For example, you should be able to use existing course equivalency lists for your program to determine if classes count for Literature credit or meet Intermediate/Advanced Level requirements. For a more information on how to do this review the FAQ below.

Your responsibilities

Study abroad requires many steps. It is the student’s responsibility to follow the process through the end. Your study abroad process will go smoothly if you remember your responsibilities in the process:

  1. Communicate about where you are going and for how long with an IS Major Advisor before you leave.
  2. Plan thoughtfully about academic and professional goals: before, during, and after your abroad experience.
  3. Provide the IS Major advisors with the study abroad worksheet and syllabi translated into English for all classes you want considered for IS Major credit.
  4. Read the IAP Study Abroad Handbook and use your My Study Abroad account to enter your course equivalent requests in a timely manner.
  5. Remember that IAP and your academic advisors do not share personal information about you.
  6. Bring important questions about grades, policies, registration, personal issues to advisors in a timely manner.
  7. Follow up with the IS advisors after your program has ended.
  8. Be patient: the study abroad transfer process can take 4-6 months.
  9. Include your campus ID in all communication with your IS Major advisor.

Tag us on Instagram!

Are you studying abroad? We would love to share your stories! Follow uwmadison_ismajor and tag us using hashtag #ISMajorsAbroad when you post pictures!

We are also accepting any student photos taken during study abroad, internship abroad, IS-related student groups, or international events in and around Madison. If you’re looking to submit, you can send us your materials at Remember to include your name, the place that your submission came from, and, if preferred, a small caption or some context for the material submitted. Please inform us if you would like your submission returned to you at any point, and make sure we have the contact information to do so.

Postcards can be dropped off in our office or mailed to:

International Studies Major
301 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706