Thank you for your interest in SMU Abroad programs and supporting your student in this important experience. The educational value of learning abroad in another country is tremendous. Adaptation to another culture can also be tremendous, sometimes posing real challenges. Southern Methodist University appreciates the important role that parents, family and friends play in supporting our students abroad. We have developed this section of our website to address some of the common questions and concerns that you may have.
State of SMU Education Abroad
SMU is sending greater and greater numbers of students abroad each year. Approximately 35% of SMU undergraduates participate on SMU programs during their academic career. Traditionally, the vast majority of SMU students choose to study abroad in Europe. In recent years, more students have opted for more "hands-on" learning experiences through internship, service or directed research programs.
With the launching of 100 new semester programs in Fall 2009, SMU offers over 130 programs in over 45 countries around the globe. The offerings allow students to earn SMU academic credit toward degree requirements and retain some if not all financial aid while abroad on SMU programs.
SMU regards global engagement as an important and integral part of the SMU educational experience. SMU Abroad programs are vetted for their academic value and quality of their student services by the Education Abroad Council, made up of SMU faculty members and international program administrators. The faculty-led summer and winter programs take advantage of overseas locations to customize course content, make it meaningful to the site and provide opportunities for students to engage with the local culture.
To ensure academic rigor, courses taken abroad at partner universities are reviewed by SMU academic departments for approval. Because most "SMU-in" semester programs have long legacies, substantial numbers of courses have been approved. Recently added provider programs require students to petition for course approval as part of the application process.
To ensure program quality, an open line of communication exists with all program administrators. Students are encouraged to complete program evaluations at the end of each term. The information is taken seriously and used to make improvements. SMU Abroad routinely assesses programs.
There is a full range of benefits - educational, personal, and professional - that students receive while participating in programs abroad. Students not only develop a knowledge of other cultures that is crucial to U.S. domestic and international interests, but they also acquire characteristics such as adaptability, independence, initiative, maturity and an appreciation of diverse populations that can enhance their lives and their future careers. SMU knows that employers, as well as graduate, law and medical school admissions committees, are interested in the international experience of candidates and see this as an experience that sets students apart.
The SMU Abroad team includes four globally-engaged staff members who provide superior service to students before, during and after their experience abroad. Interested undergraduates have the opportunity to schedule one-on-one advising appointments with an SMU Abroad adviser to discuss their options. In addition to individual appointments, it is recommended that students begin their understanding of SMU Abroad programs by attending one of the daily information sessions, followed by coming to the annual fair held in early fall semester. There are also group orientations for all programs, and re-entry events for students returning to campus after their time abroad.