Been dreaming about a semester near a gorgeous beach off the coast of Spain? How about Paris, Croatia, Tel Aviv, or Ghana?
Study abroad is a popular option for students in many fields who want to explore another culture. Musicians and educators often talk about the benefits of spending time immersed in another country’s lifestyles and customs, in preparation for life as a music professional. From broadening your perspective as a human being and a musician to experiencing how your interests are taught, shared, and supported outside of your home turf, study abroad offers a compelling opportunity to learn in a new context.
Can I Still Graduate in Four Years?
BM performance degree candidates at many conservatories and music schools find that it is not possible to study abroad during the school year and still graduate within four years.
Schools that do build study abroad into the four-year curriculum typically require you to be at least a sophomore or, more likely, a junior; maintain a minimum GPA to qualify; and plan your study abroad well in advance in order to be sure you can fit it into your curriculum.
Bachelor of Arts students typically have more leeway in choosing coursework, and can incorporate a semester or sometimes an entire year abroad without delaying graduation. Music technology and music business majors may also find it easier to fit study abroad into a four-year curriculum. There is no set rule about study abroad; be sure to check with your school.
What Happens to My Financial Aid?
If you are receiving financial aid and decide to study abroad during the school year, your aid will typically continue and be applied to your study abroad tuition. Be sure to verify this with the study abroad office at your school. Many universities have their own connections with schools in other countries and you can get full credit through those programs for whatever you study. Check with your school about receiving credit if you decide to study abroad through another school’s program.
What About the Summer?
Studying abroad during the summer may be an easier option for music majors. Other ways to gain a different cultural perspective include service-learning travel projects offered by many schools and organizations, attending and/or performing at summer music festivals, and cobbling together your own plan. Some schools offer travel allowances, grants or scholarships for these purposes. Check with the study abroad office as well as the music school or department to see what’s available as well as to solicit other creative suggestions. Note that the visa process in itself is time-consuming and complicated; be sure to seek help from your school and allow enough time for your paperwork to clear.
For more on study abroad, see… Study Abroad as a Music Major