Study abroad programs are more popular than ever. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, more than 325,000 students in the U.S. studied abroad during the 2015-2016 school year. That marked a 3 percent year-over-year increase and represented more than 1 percent of all enrolled students and 10 percent of all graduates.
As a growing number of students realize, there are many benefits of studying away, including but not limited to:
- Chances to take unique elective courses
- Ability to fulfill degree requirements during academic breaks
- Immersive environments for honing marketable skills such as adaptability and foreign language
- Firsthand exposure to cultures and markets relevant to personal and professional interests
As part of the online Healthcare Master of Business Administration (HCMBA) degree at the George Washington University (GW), the study away program is a prime opportunity to learn more about business environments around the globe while also fulfilling curricular requirements. Let’s take a look at how the Healthcare MBA program is structured and what participants can gain from it.
Overview of the study away program options for HCMBA students at GW
In the 2017-2018 academic year, the Global and Experiential Education (G&EE) team at the GW School of Business operated 28 separate programs across 20 countries, sending 292 students off-campus. Short- and long-term study away opportunities are available to business students, with a few key differences between them.
Short-term study away
There are two main types of short-term programs for HCMBA students, both of them intensive with most of your time occupied by academic work. Short-term programs are held during the winter, spring and summer breaks and allow students to round out their knowledge of business practices through exposure to new topics and regions.
The first type of short-term option for Healthcare MBA students are exchange programs through one of our 21 prestigious partner institutions. These programs are an excellent fit for online students seeking flexible opportunities, which:
- Are completely designed and led by the partner institutions
- Usually have only minimal pre-class requirements
- Feature site visits that take students outside the classroom
Examples of GW-affiliated exchange programs include partnerships with the ESSEC Business School in France, the IPADE Business School in Mexico and Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Some of them are also open to MBA students from other U.S. institutions, meaning there are additional chances to network while completing HCMBA requirements.
The other type of short-term option is led by School of Business faculty members and typically lasts between one and two weeks, with an average duration of 10 days. For students who work while earning their degrees, this means only a week or so away from their jobs may be necessary.
There are usually two to four class sessions prior to and after travelling. These classes, which provide key background on the country in question and the associated topics of study, are scheduled in the evening or on weekends. Sessions are offered in a variety of formats, some allowing online students to easily participate via webinar or content management systems such as Blackboard and others requiring in-person engagement on-campus in Washington, DC.
Overall, the design of the faculty-led programs emphasizes rewarding experiences that are practical for working professionals.
Long-term study abroad
A long-term study abroad program for a GW HCMBA student usually lasts from two to four months. Currently, there are 21 partner institutions across 18 countries — including Australia, China, France, Israel, Italy, Mexico, South Africa and Switzerland — open to GWSB students. All coursework is in English, although language classes may also be available at some institutions for free or for a small fee.
These programs provide access to a much broader set of courses and extracurricular opportunities than their short-term counterparts. Hundreds of additional electives not regularly offered at GW are available to HCMBA students who study abroad.
Additional planning and preparation are necessary before committing to a long-term program at a partner institution. While full-time work is likely not feasible while studying abroad long-term, some students have maintained part-time employment during their programs.
Transfer credit study abroad
Another option for HCMBA students is to pursue study abroad outside of GW-linked programs. Doing so requires careful coordination with an academic advisor about transferring credits in. A maximum of six credits can be transferred from institutions accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
How HCMBA students can apply to these study away programs
For short-term programs the deadlines to apply are late September for winter and spring break programs and early February for summer programs. For long-term opportunities the deadlines are March 15th for the fall and September 15th for the spring. The applications will ask for biographic information, a transcript, a résumé and a personal statement. Faculty members and/or the G&EE office will review the materials.
After being admitted, a $500 deposit is required via credit card for short-term programs. The deposit can be applied to either the study away tuition or the program fee; the latter covers group meals, double-occupancy accommodations, transportation, health insurance and cultural activities while off-campus. Long-term programs only require a non-financial official commitment and do not have a program fee.
Study away programs are billed to each student’s account, making it eligible for financial aid. Students with pre-approved financial aid packages can use those resources for tuition. There will be some out-of-pocket expenses along the way, including for the flights to and from the destination. General cost estimates are available via the GW program websites.
Scholarships are available for both short-term and long-term programs. A scholarship for short-term programs requires an application, which is embedded within the online program application. Any participant in a long-term study abroad program automatically receives a scholarship. Scholarships are applied as a tuition award for the semester in which the study away program takes place.
Study away affords a unique chance for HCMBA students to access classes, instructors and environments that they would not encounter if taking only online or on-campus courses. Moreover, the experience can be a powerful differentiator when searching for jobs. U.S. organizations are constantly seeking personnel who understand international markets, and candidates with both an HCMBA and experience studying away can stand out from the pack.