Choosing the Right Program

There are many international opportunities, varying in length, cost, number of courses, amount of travelling, structure, and more!

Many of the questions below do not have a right or a wrong answer. We encourage you to discuss your options carefully. For example with your family or caregiver, and Academic Adviser/department if necessary. As a first step you may want to consider what your goals and preferences are, as this can help you narrow down your options.

We also encourage you to consider that international travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. For example, there may be a lack of resources. This may include emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self. All of these can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate your needs against the particular study abroad program you are selecting. This may include assessing your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual circumstances. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you please get in touch. You can also get in contact if you have any circumstances that could impede your success on the program. Your Faculty International Office will be happy to assist in finding the best option(s) for you. They can also help arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you are having trouble finding answers to questions about Queen's programs, please contact your Faculty International Office.

  • How does the program fit with your degree requirements?
  • Is academic credit and transfer credit possible? Who issues the transcript? Are they an accredited institution?
  • How many courses can you take on the program?
  • How does the program's curriculum engage with the host environment?
  • Do you meet the eligibility criteria?

  • What does the program fee cover? What does it not cover?
  • How much does the program cost compared to studying in Kingston?
  • Does the program offer any financial aid? Are you eligible for funding elsewhere? Is any funding you currently have potentially impacted by studying abroad? 
  • What are the refund and cancellation policies?
  • Will the program price be massively affected by currency fluctuations?
  • If you need to work while abroad, can you do so in the country you're considering?
  • How much are flights to the destination country?

  • Do you know anyone who has been on the program before?
  • Have you had contact with the program already? Were the responses timely, useful, and professional?
  • Is the program on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media? What do you see?
  • Have you found any reviews of the program online? If you are considering exchange, come to one of our events and find out what it’s like firsthand!

  • Is there a program-specific pre-departure orientation?
  • What is the safety situation like in the host destination? You can use the Government of Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories tool to see regularly updated information on:
    • local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
    • entry and exit requirements
    • local laws and culture
    • possible health hazards and health restrictions
    • natural hazards and climate
    • where to find help while you are travelling abroad
  • Consider our identity specific resources. These may help you identify potential concerns around wellness and safety you had not previously considered. These resources may also guide you in finding answers. Please reach out to your Faculty International Office if you have any questions. 
  • Queen's University has partnered with International SOS (ISOS). ISOS provides out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. You can contact International SOS prior to your travel for country-specific information. A network of multilingual specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • What are your priorities - for example do you want to study at a university or are you more interested in a field trip? Do you want to go to a certain country or is this less important to you than what you can do on the program?
  • Does the program offer accommodation and/or housing advice? If yes, what are the arrangements?
  • Will you be on the program by yourself, or part of a larger group/cohort?
  • How long is the program? When does the program take place? For instance, if it runs from June-August it may impact your summer job.

When to Go

There is no right or wrong time to study abroad. But with some preparation and research you can find the program that most closely aligns with your goals and preferences. The seasons below align with Kingston. If you are travelling to the summer hemisphere don't forget that seasons are off-set. In the northern hemisphere different regions can experience the same seasons differently.

 Fall

  • The Fall term dates at most (but not all!) of our exchange partners align with the dates here in Kingston. At BISC they are identical and in fact with a shortened exam period you may finish earlier than in Kingston.
  • The global exchange term occurs during the Fall. This means you will be able to live and work alongside a large and more diverse group of exchange students. This is typically the case at BISC as well.
  • It will typically be easier to sublet your room in Kingston during the Fall. This is because the demand is very high due to the majority of incoming exchange students coming to Queen’s in the Fall.
  • Typically a wide range of courses available in Fall.
  • Most European universities have a Fall Reading Week, which is perfect for travel (…or reading!). BISC programs have a mid-term trip followed by a reading week.
  • The majority of summer job/internship postings close early in the Winter term.
  • You will be available for the full four months in the summer for a job/internship following 3rd year.
  • If you are planning on working in Europe, keep in mind that most recruitment in Europe occurs in the Fall.

 Winter

  • Will miss the Canadian Winter and the sports and festivities that are available during the Winter season.
  • The Winter term typically starts and ends later at many partner schools. This may allow more time to travel on the front end. However, it also encroaches on the start date for summer employment at the back end. At BISC term dates are identical and in fact with a shortened exam period you may finish earlier than in Kingston.
  • There are some exchange partners for whom a Fall term exchange is not feasible.
  • Typically a wide range of courses available in Winter.
  • It can typically be harder to sublet your room in Kingston because the demand is quite low in the Winter.
  • On-campus post-graduation job recruiting takes place mostly in the Fall term.
  • For Fall term programs; you may still be able to arrange a phone/Skype interview with recruiters for summer jobs/internships.
  • Check your graduation requirements. If you are in fourth year and need courses for your degree then you will likely not be able to graduate in the Spring.

 Summer

  • Ensures you can spend a full year at Queen’s if you are involved in a club, are a student athlete etc.
  • Typically, exchange is not offered in summer months.  However, short-term programs are, where you can pick up 2-3 courses, not a full semester’s worth of courses. The range of courses may be wider in Fall/Winter – but specialised programs are sometimes more available in Summer.
  • May help you get ahead or catch up with courses instead of taking an overload in Fall/Winter.
  • Depending on the start/end dates on your lease, you may not need to sublet your room.
  • Term dates will likely impact your selection of available summer job opportunities.

Study Abroad Myths

You’ve decided you really want to study abroad. You've done your research, and think you have 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, many do not. Read our myth-busting answers to find out more about the reality of study abroad.

Some exchange partners do require students to have a basic knowledge of the language. However the majority of courses offered in exchange programs are instructed in English. Therefore, while being able to speak the host country's native language will greatly enhance the experience of living abroad, it is not a requirement. Once abroad, however, students frequently do take language-acquisition classes. This can facilitate their integration into the unfamiliar environment and culture while earning credits to count towards their degree. Any language requirements at exchange partner universities are clearly marked on the profile on our exchange Programs page.

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

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. This is to ensure that courses will transfer properly and prerequisites will be met while studying abroad.

Many science plans also allow for electives. This can make short-term programs either in Reading Week or the Summer ideal choices for science students.

Yes, you can! Students in Concurrent Education must first consult with the Faculty of Education Practicum Office to determine the appropriate steps. Most students from this faculty usually defer their practicum until their fourth year. This can enable students to take courses that will contribute to their teachables while abroad.

This is not automatically true. Some students may personally decide to take an extra year after returning to Queen’s. For example, to improve grades instead of completing their degree. With appropriate planning and course selections, however, most students are able to earn their degrees within 4 years and graduate with their peers. This is provided that they have successfully completed all of their courses while studying both at Queen’s and abroad.

In fact, taking part in study abroad in Reading Week or Summer can help you catch up or get ahead in your degree.

Yes, you can! Although the BISC and exchange opportunities both provide an international education, the experiences gained from each opportunity vary greatly. Students who have studied at the BISC may also participate in other study abroad programs including exchange.

The requirements of each postgraduate program vary considerably, each demanding an in-depth application process. However many programs value mature students. For example, those 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.

Grades from exchange are not transferred to your Queen’s transcript. However, when applying to grad school students are typically asked to produce transcripts from all universities they have attended. 

This is not necessarily true!

The Bader International Study Centre (BISC) is open to students in all years of study. Consequently any student enrolled in a degree program at Queen's, and who is in good academic standing, may apply. 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 Faculty and or department or email castle@queensu.ca for further details.

Students may in principle study abroad outside of their third year of study on an ILOP. This is subject to program requirements, and certain criteria. If you are an Arts and Science student please see the ILOP eligibility and application page for more details.

Students who go on a formal exchange usually do so in their third year. In many cases the degree requirements for students pursuing a major concentration allow a lot of flexibility for study abroad in third year. Applications may also be accepted from third-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during their fourth year. Applications may also be accepted from fourth-year students who wish to spend a term abroad during a fifth year of their program. In both cases this will be subject to the student meeting certain criteria as outlined on the respective program pages.