Students should explore the opportunities for Study Abroad during their first two years and plan their Duke course work to permit them to Study Abroad in their fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh semesters (second semester sophomores, juniors, and first semester seniors). In many cases, students will need to complete prerequisites in a foreign language. Students interested in studying abroad for a semester or academic year need to make plans for completing their major requirements by identifying programs which provide instruction in the major field, by doubling up on major courses during the semester or by taking major courses in the summer on campus. It is possible to complete a pre-medical or engineering program and incorporate a semester abroad; it simply takes planning from the start. It is possible to start a new language upon arriving at Duke and then to Study Abroad in that language.
By the time a class graduates, approximately 43-46% will have studied abroad. Of those, on average, 54% go in the fall, 12% in the spring, and 34% in summer.
Most juniors Study Abroad in the fall. GEO encourages students to consider second semester sophomore year as well as spring of their junior year so as not to limit their opportunities, but a culture has evolved around the fall junior year Study Abroad experience. Seniors may also choose to study abroad. Summer Study Abroad accommodates students from rising sophomores and above.
Trinity students will no longer be required to declare a major before spending a semester abroad/away; however, students are still required to declare a major in the spring of their sophomore year, which means that students wishing to study abroad/away in the fourth semester should declare their major before they leave.
Sophomores are strongly encouraged (but are not required) to declare their major by the Early Declaration Deadline (the end of the third full week of the semester) if they want to study abroad as juniors. Early Declaration will result in the transfer of your academic file to your new department before you make final plans to Study Abroad, giving you enough time to meet with your major advisor to ensure that whatever courses you take while abroad will keep you on track for graduation.
It is best to discuss the possibility of Study Abroad at the first meeting. Planning for the experience to complement the academic plan is easiest if incorporated early in the process. Nevertheless, if it is an issue that arises in later discussions, it generally still can be accommodated.
The GPA requirement is more flexible for summer programs and admission requirements can be less stringent. More summer term classes are taught in English versus a foreign language. Also, the Duke summer programs are led by Duke faculty who teach at least one of the courses abroad, whereas most of our semester programs are administered and taught by host nationals. A disadvantage to a summer program is that the students do not have as much time to fully immerse themselves in the host culture.
Program beginning and ending dates vary considerably and can certainly overlap and cross terms at Duke. Programs in the southern hemisphere (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America) start in early July and run through November/December and then from February until June. Many European universities continue the fall semester into late January, limiting direct enrollment options. Program dates are available on the web.