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As one of the foremost schools for cross-cultural education in the world, [SIT’s] record is one trail-blazing effort after another, a whole series of initiatives that have transformed both the world, and the way education about the world is shaped.
US Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
SIT Study Abroad programs are small, theme-based, and utilize an experiential, interdisciplinary curriculum. Classroom instruction and field study are incorporated into each course. Program components form a logical progression whereby students advance from a structured learning environment to a more independent one.
Semester programs offer either 16 or 17 credits, and summer programs offer between 4 and 9 credits.
Each SIT program is composed of several of the following components. Program-specific components are listed on individual program web pages.
Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.
Excursions outside the classroom are an integral part of each program. Excursions can include half-day or daylong site visits to government agencies, NGOs, or professional associations. They can include longer stays, such as visiting a rural village, ecosystem, or neighboring country. Excursions provide comparative perspectives on important program themes and offer new settings in which to engage in fieldwork, practice language skills, and make contacts for the Independent Study Project. Intensive learning — through seminars, workshops, and group discussions — continues during periods of excursion.
Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.
Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.
Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.
Case studies offer opportunities for in-depth investigation and study through independent research and field visits. Students observe people and practices related to their chosen subject matter. Projects may include interviews with community members or local agencies, written questionnaire surveys, and thematic and quantitative content analyses. Students may design oral presentations of research findings.
On some SIT programs, students may have the opportunity to pursue community volunteer experiences that allow them to take more active roles in the issues they are studying. Some students may choose to incorporate a guided practicum experience into their Independent Study Project.
Most programs include at least one homestay experience, offering students the chance to gain a close view of the local culture and to experience the daily rhythm of life in the host country. Homestays provide further context and perspectives on issues being studied, as well as opportunities to improve language skills and deepen cultural understanding. SIT designs homestays to reflect the full diversity of the community, partnering with families who represent a variety of occupational, economic, and educational levels. Many programs offer homestays in both urban and rural areas to give students contrasting views of life in different social or ethnic contexts. Learn more about the homestay experience.
When not in homestays, students stay in appropriate lodgings that may include guest houses, educational institutions, camping, or small hotels.
All programs include a thorough orientation that incorporates health and safety information and tools for cross-cultural adaptation. Programs conclude with a guided reflection and discussion period that examines the impact of the experience. Through this reentry preparation, students are encouraged to consider how they can incorporate their experience in the future. During this time, students also have the opportunity to provide feedback on their program.
Students earn undergraduate credits upon successful completion of an SIT Study Abroad program. Semester programs offer either 16 or 17 credits, and summer programs offer between 4 and 9 credits. (See individual program pages.) SIT academic and program directors assign a letter grade for each course. Students may not elect a pass/fail grading option.
Credits earned through an SIT Study Abroad program are transferrable only at the discretion of the receiving school. Please note that many schools require prior approval in order to transfer credits earned through study abroad.
Students are responsible for meeting with their study abroad and/or academic advisor prior to enrollment to determine the transferability of credit. Study abroad offices can provide guidance on how to integrate the study abroad experience with a particular course of study at the home institution.
Within two months of program completion, SIT sends a transcript with letter grades to the home institution, as well as a narrative evaluation of the Independent Study Project or community project (for programs incorporating those components). A grade report with a narrative evaluation is also sent to the student’s home address unless SIT is instructed otherwise in writing.
SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC), through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Inquiries regarding the accreditation status by the New England Association should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution. Individuals may also contact: Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, 209 Burlington Road, Bedford, MA 01730-1433, 781 271-0022, firstname.lastname@example.org.