International Programs Office

International Programs Office

International Programs Office

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Study Abroad Myths

You’ve decided you really want to study abroad, done your research, and found a program that fits well with your major here at Queen’s, but you’ve heard you have to speak the host country’s language…

While some programs require a second language, the majority do not. Read our myth-busting answers to find out more about the reality of study abroad.

Myth #1: I have to speak a second language to study abroad.

Some of our exchange partners do require students have a basic knowledge of the language, but the majority of courses offered in our exchange programs are instructed in English. Therefore, while being able to speak the native language of the country is a benefit and will greatly enhance the experience of living abroad, it is not a requirement. Once abroad, however, students frequently do take language-acquisition classes, facilitating their integration into the unfamiliar environment and culture while earning credits to count towards their degree.

All other Queen’s programs are conducted in English. Non-Queen’s programs may have different criteria, which should be easily identifiable.

Myth #2: Science students can’t study abroad

This is wrong! Science students, like any other discipline in Arts and Science, are also able to participate in exchange programs. Students must research the partner institution as well as speak with their respective Undergraduate Chair before applying for an exchange to ensure that courses will transfer properly and prerequisites will be met while studying abroad.

Myth #3: Con-Ed students can’t study abroad

Yes, you can! As with any other discipline at Queen’s, students in Concurrent Education must first consult with the Faculty of Education Practicum Office to decide on the appropriate steps to take in order to study abroad. Most students from this faculty usually defer their practicum until their fourth year, opting to take courses that will contribute to their teachables while abroad.

Myth #4: I will have to stay an extra year if I go on exchange

Some students may personally decide to take an extra year after returning to Queen’s to improve grades instead of completing the degree. With appropriate planning and course selections, however, most students are able to earn their degrees within the regular four-year time frame and graduate with their peers, provided that they have successfully completed all of their courses while studying both at Queen’s and abroad.

Myth #5: If I go to the Castle, I can’t go on exchange/study abroad

Yes, you can! Although the BISC and exchange opportunities both provide an international education, the experiences gained from each opportunity vary greatly. If both the BISC and exchange appeal to students, then they are encouraged to pursue both programs, truly taking advantage of the varied international programs Queen’s has to offer. Students who have studied at the BISC may also participate in other study abroad programs in addition to/instead of taking part in exchange.

Myth #6: If I go on exchange, it will weaken my chances of getting into grad school

The requirements of each postgraduate program vary considerably, each demanding an in-depth application process. However many programs value mature students who exemplify the ability to thrive in a new learning environment and/or have international experience. Studying abroad offers a competitive edge to the student’s application while showcasing their independence and pursuit of an enriched education.

Further, while grades from exchange are not transferred to your Queen’s transcript, when applying to grad school students are typically asked to produce transcripts from all universities they have attended, at which point you can provide them with the transcript from your host institution.

Myth #7: I can only go abroad in my third year

Any student enrolled in a degree program at Queen's, and who is in good academic standing, may apply for admission to the Bader International Study Centre (BISC). Because the BISC is open to students in all years of study, as well as university graduates, students are only limited in the timing of their attendance at the BISC by the course requirements in their subject(s) of concentration. Students should consult with their respective department or the International Programs Office for further details.

Subject to program requirements, and certain criteria students may in principle study abroad outside of their third year of study on an ILOP. Please see the ILOP criteria and eligibility page for more details.

Students who go on a formal exchange usually do so in their third year, in part because the competitive selection process limits the number of exchange placements available. The degree requirements in many subjects of concentration are such that students pursuing a major concentration have maximum flexibility for study abroad in their third year of study. Applications may also be accepted from third-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during their fourth year and from fourth-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during a fifth year of their program, subject to them meeting certain criteria as outlined on the Exchange eligibility page.