Planning Your
Global Experience

Getting Started: Initial Planning Aspects

With so many global experience options and formats available, students who wish to study, work or volunteer abroad will find plenty of opportunities that fit both their schedules and their interests. Students should begin by formulating their thoughts on each of the planning aspects provided below and consult with Office of Global Outreach (OGO) personnel on an individual basis for more information. Another recommended planning resource is membership in the OGO CTools group, used for circulating information to interested students about opportunities for global engagement. To be added to the group, please e-mail your request to:  Office of Global Outreach

Independent Vs. Group Travel

One of the first aspects to consider when thinking about a global experience is whether to travel independently or as a member of a group.  Independent travel would allow for more flexibility, but many students, especially those new to international travel or to a particular destination, may feel more comfortable participating in some type of structured group experience. Students should take into consideration their own comfort level and experience with travel when choosing which type of global experience to pursue.

Timing and Duration

Some nursing courses include optional short field experiences which take place either during the term, during winter term break or shortly after the end of winter term. These may be in the form of service learning trips, as support for faculty research, or as part of a clinical integration associated with a class. For experiences of more than a few weeks, the best option is usually for travel in the spring and/or summer.
Many spring/summer programs have early winter application deadlines, so students should begin investigating options, consulting with academic advisors, and getting courses pre-approved for credit (if applicable) as early as possible, preferably in the fall term of that academic year. Students should watch for campus-wide events such as the U-M Study Abroad Fair and the International Opportunities Fair; both of which take place in early fall.


Students are encouraged to begin thinking early not just about where they would like to go and what they would like to do, but also about how to finance the expenses involved. Study abroad programs charge tuition as well as program fees for housing, food and activities. Federal financial aid may cover some of these expenses, but only for activities that provide academic credit. Consult an advisor in U-M's Office of Financial Aid (OFA) or visit the Financial Aid for Study Abroad page on their website for more information.
Internship and service learning programs also charge fees for placements, housing, etc. Some programs offer scholarships to their own participants, and there are some grants and scholarships available (see Funding Global Experiences). Again, it should be emphasized that students begin planning early to meet the financial needs of their global experience.

Attention undergraduates!

Students enrolled in more than 18 credit hours per term must pay additional tuition fees. Because courses with global travel components can provide more credit hours than traditional courses, it's important to consider when you will incorporate global study into your program. Any student considering one of these options should pay particular attention to the timing and tuition cost issues when discussing their plans with advisors.

Curricular Vs. Co-curricular Experience

As you begin to consider a global experience, one question to ask yourself is whether the ability to earn academic credit is important to you or not.  Those programs that provide the opportunity to earn credit are called "curricular experiences" and are often referred to as "study abroad" opportunities.  Those opportunities that do not allow the participant to earn academic credit are called "co-curricular experiences" and often are categorized as internship, volunteer or service opportunities.
For many spring/summer study abroad (curricular) experiences, the credits earned may be counted towards program requirements or as electives. However, the fact that they are in addition to fall and/or winter term courses makes the need for credit less urgent for nursing students. On the co-curricular front, there are plenty of challenging and fulfilling opportunities to intern or volunteer abroad.  These experiences can greatly enhance both professional and personal development.
Ready to start looking further for a global experience program to fit your interests? Visit the Undergraduate Global Opportunities and Graduate Global Opportunities pages.