Study Abroad for Geography Majors

Geography is an extremely hands-on discipline devoted to the study of the Earth as home to humans. The UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) provides Geography majors the opportunity to gain new perspectives and achieve a greater understanding of the world in which we live. Whether your area of interest is in the physical and biological processes of the environment; the way in which humans perceive, interact with, and modify the environment; or the way techniques are used for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of geospatial data, studying abroad will expand your comprehension of the discipline and will enrich your educational experience.

Why study abroad?

In general, studying abroad will widen your personal cultural horizon, expand your comprehension and appreciation of the effects of globalization, and give you the opportunity to improve your communication and language skills. It can help you better understand the discipline, insofar as geography is an international discipline which has continually been influenced by ideas and methodologies from all over the world. Last, but not least, it could give you the opportunity to enhance your studies and your future career by pursuing unique fieldwork in a country or region specific to your area of interest.

The benefits of studying and living abroad are tremendous. You can:

*Take advantage of unique academic coursework opportunities
*Learn a new language and culture
*Advance your cross-cultural and problem-solving skills
*Receive academic credit for research or independent study projects conducted under the supervision of local faculty mentors
*Gain new perspectives on American society, culture, and influence
*Arrange an internship in a local corporate, governmental, public, or private organization
*Develop self-confidence and independence
*Prepare for a career in an internationally competitive world
*Enhance your resume for job or graduate school applications

Returning UCEAP students often describe their experience abroad as a life-changing and uniquely valuable one for future choices of professional and personal goals. College is the time for exploration. Don’t miss out on an EAP experience!

Where should I study abroad?

UCEAP offers study abroad programs at numerous excellent universities with strong geography departments. Go to the EAP website ( to explore the various program options. There are a surprising number of EAP programs taught in English around the world. Through the EAP website, navigate to the host universities’ websites to learn more about their departments and course offerings.

Countries with geography departments offering courses in English you may want to consider include:

Australia -- Denmark -- Hong Kong -- Ireland -- New Zealand -- Singapore
South Africa -- Sweden -- United Kingdom

You may want to consider learning a foreign language or fulfilling your GE requirements abroad. With short and long-term programs in over 32 countries and 130 universities to choose from, you have many options.

UCSB Geography students have successfully studied in such diverse countries as Brazil, South Africa, the U.K., Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Barbados, and Hong Kong. Your choice of where to study should be made in coordination with your undergraduate advisor and the EAP office.

When should I study abroad?

We recommend that Geography majors study abroad in their junior or senior year, after they have completed the bulk of the lower-division requirements. Depending upon the length of study abroad, it is advisable to have time at the end of your senior year to complete your degree requirements after studying abroad. However, the guidelines are not written in stone, and it is recommended that you consult with the department undergraduate advisor and the Education Abroad Program office. EAP applications are due well in advance of departure, so start planning NOW!

What classes should I take?

Keep in mind that at students in the College of Letters and Science must complete at least 20 units of upper-division major coursework (or 12 upper-division minor units) in residence at UCSB along with other residence requirements. Consult an advisor in the College of Letters & Science for more information.

All UCEAP students automatically earn UC credit for the work they complete abroad. However, the application of credit to major requirements or GE requirements is subject to the discretion of the department and the college.

Geography is the most interdisciplinary department on the UCSB campus. It is also the most integrated discipline on campus, insofar as the material taught in our classes about environmental processes can be found in other disciplines, but are only put together as a whole story in Geography. Above all, Geography is “spatial”-- virtually everything has a spatial component, from the distribution of subatomic particles to the choices we make when we buy groceries. Therefore, as a geographer, you can choose to study an enormous range of subjects while abroad. The Department does recommend that our students take all of their Geographical Techniques course requirements at UCSB. 

The UCEAP website has a course catalog where you can search courses EAP students have taken by subject, keyword and/or location. This is a particularly useful tool for geography majors since so many applicable courses are offered through different departments. 

Consult with the undergraduate advisor regarding the courses you plan to take abroad before leaving and while abroad. Save all syllabi, papers, and other relevant course information to help you successfully petition courses for specific requirements.

How do I get started?

  • Stop by the UCSB EAP office at 2431 South Hall.
  • Go the UCSB EAP website, Getting Started.
  • Consult the UCEAP website for program details.  
  • Go see your department undergraduate advisor. 

Department of Geography
1832 Ellison Hall
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060
Phone: (805) 893-3663