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Foreign Study

history department

Many students profit greatly from spending part or all of their Junior year abroad. For information on the available programs, visit the Office of International Programs, located in Hovey House. At OIP, you can obtain information on the steps for applying for study abroad and begin researching programs according to your academic and geographic areas of interest. As you follow the steps in applying, you may be required to get History Department approval. This can be obtained from department administrators or from Prof. Rob Savage.

It is not always possible to know what courses will be available when you actually arrive at the foreign-study program; the course listings you have are generally tentative and subject to change. This is no cause for alarm. As a rule, any course which you take in an approved foreign study program and which is labeled "history" can count toward your major.

As many as four foreign studies courses (worth twelve credits) can be accepted toward major requirements, as long as six of the ten courses required for the major (worth at least 18 credits) are taken at Boston College during the regular academic year. Most foreign-study courses are accepted for major elective (not upper-division) credit. The precise allocation of foreign study courses to major requirements is normally accomplished after you return to BC. It is very rare for students to experience any difficulty in completing major requirements if they have made a good start on the major before they travel abroad.

If you believe that a course you are taking abroad is as challenging as one of our upper-division electives (i.e., it has substantial reading and writing assignments), you should compile evidence to support this. Save everything, especially the course syllabus and the paper(s) you write! After you return, you can try to persuade the Undergraduate Director to count the course as an upper-division elective. (This must be done after you get back to BC; there is no point in trying to pin it down via faxes or email messages from abroad unless you are only seeking major elective credit.) No more than two foreign study courses can be counted as upper-division electives. Despite all these limitations, be assured that students who have gotten a good start on core and major requirements before leaving for study abroad should have no trouble completing them, even if they spend an entire year abroad.

It is sometimes possible to find a course on non-Western history abroad. Remember that this requirement applies to courses on the history of areas outside of the U.S. and Europe. It is rarely possible to find good U.S. History survey courses in a foreign-study program, and the department always expects you to take HS-300: The Study and Writing of History at Boston College, so it is best to complete these requirements (HS 181-182: U.S. History I and II, and HS-300: The Study and Writing of History) before studying abroad.

Students who are contemplating a senior honors thesis and who will be abroad during the normal application process in the Spring of their Junior year are strongly urged to plan ahead. They should try to establish a thesis topic, identify a faculty member willing to supervise their work before departing, and verify that they will be able to be in email contact with their thesis advisor while abroad. They should be aware that the deadline for submission of applications is April 1 of their Junior year. For additional information, they should consult with the director of the History Honors Program early in the semester prior to their departure for study abroad.

When you return to the U.S., OIP will process your transcript after they receive it from your host institution and will forward it to Student Services for posting on your BC transcript. You will need to submit an “OIP Degree Audit Substitution Form for Study Abroad” to get your courses applied to major or minor requirements. If you are simply seeking major or minor elective credit for foreign-study courses, you can arrange for the necessary paperwork through department administrators. If you want to try for upper-division credit, you will need to see the department's foreign study advisor, Prof. Rob Savage.