Overseas Studies

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Mission Statement

The Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences of the University of Southern California expresses its commitment:

To integrate study abroad into the undergraduate curriculum and to send a significant number of its undergraduates abroad for study at some time during their college lives

To continue to develop new international programs, and to increase the range of opportunities for study locations around the world

To maintain traditions of academic excellence in all study abroad programs

To encourage the appropriate foreign language preparation for study abroad

To facilitate both longer term study (semester and year-long programs), as well as summer and other shorter-term programs, including student exchanges and other innovative possibilities for cultural exchange

To integrate study abroad with on-campus academic programs and activities; this includes effective advising, close coordination between international programs and the relevant academic units, and development of relevant extracurricular programs

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Goals of Study Abroad

USC Dornsife expects that studying abroad for a semester or year will help students in reaching one or more of the following goals:

  • Pursue academic work that complements one's major or minor course of study.

Such academic work may include courses that are specific to the culture, country, or region of the study abroad program; access to in situ learning opportunities and research materials, such as Madrid’s Prado Museum, Egyptian Coptic manuscripts, Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies, etc.; courses that are similar to those offered on campus but with a cultural or academic perspective unique to the host country; or laboratory and field research opportunities not available on campus.

  • Gain a deeper understanding of a particular culture by spending an extended period of time immersed in that culture. 

While the level of immersion is highly dependent on each individual student, the Office of Overseas Studies aims to provide programs that facilitate immersion through housing situations, cultural activities and excursions, and community involvement opportunities. Students live with a host family when possible and practical or in housing with local students.  In a few programs students live with other American students but are strongly encouraged to meet and interact with host country locals as much as possible.

  • Improve foreign language skills.

USC Dornsife offers courses in 13 modern languages:  Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  Because the USC Dornsife College wants students to be prepared to immerse themselves in the cultures of the countries where those languages are spoken and to be well-positioned to make rapid progress in language acquisition, students are required to have taken (or tested out of) at least two semesters of their host country language before going abroad.  All students studying in a country where a foreign language is spoken must continue their formal language study in the host country.  In the case of languages that are not offered at USC (i.e. Czech, modern Greek, and Swahili), students begin study of those languages upon arrival in the host country.