Study Abroad and Batten

The opportunity to study abroad can be a rewarding one for UVA students of all majors, and enables students to experience and adapt to new cultures and environments, develop global knowledge and perspectives, and improve language application skills. For Batten students in particular, studying abroad is an opportunity to expand policy application skills beyond the national stage, engage diverse policy populations, and gain cross-cultural leadership experience. Despite these benefits, a common concern among Batten BA students is that studying abroad will prevent them from completing all required Batten credits and graduating on time. In this post, we hope to address such concerns, highlight experiences of Batten students who have studied or are planning to study abroad, and answer some commonly asked questions pertaining to studying abroad as a Batten student.


What are my study abroad options?

There are several education abroad program types to choose from, including UVA Direct Programs, UVA Partner Programs, UVA Exchange Programs, and Outside Programs. Each of these program types offer various levels of immersion, benefits, and associated costs. UVA Programs are designed, directed, and developed exclusively by UVA faculty members, and participants are predominantly UVA students. Lily Hurt’s UVA in Oxford Summer program (see below for more) is an example of such a UVA program. UVA Partner Programs are programs administered by a partner organization with UVA input on the academic curriculum, and often include students from other United States colleges and universities. UVA Exchange Programs are conducted through one of UVA’s 50 exchange agreements with universities around the world and allow you to enroll alongside local students and obtain higher levels of immersion. 

Finally, Outside Programs are those sponsored by other universities and private companies, offering a wide range of options including more experiential programs involving fieldwork and research. Certain Outside Programs design both coursework and fieldwork around a specific theme or topic, thus allowing students to gain more specialized international experience. In fact, the author of this post, Class of 2024 Batten BA student Zade Haddad, is currently studying abroad in the 2023 Spring semester through an Outside Program managed by the School for International Training. This multi-country Human Rights: Movements, Power, and Resistance program investigates the historical and social contexts of human rights movements across global cultures and populations by spending a month each in Nepal, Jordan, and Chilé.

Students may choose to study abroad over the course of a semester. Alternatively, students who cannot commit an entire semester may decide to spend a shorter time studying abroad by participating in a Summer or J-Term program. 

When choosing a study abroad program, make sure to keep your personal academic and travel goals in mind. Students have gained rewarding experiences across all program types, and the Batten School encourages students to consider all options before settling on “the perfect one.” To learn more about Education Abroad options and find the right program for you, be sure to check out the UVA Education Abroad website.

Can you get any credit towards the Batten BA while abroad?

Yes! Generally speaking, the Batten School can accept up to 6 credits from outside Batten towards Special Topics Credit Requirements and up to 9 credits for a semester abroad program assuming those credits are above the 3000 level and related to public policy and/or leadership.  Students who choose to study abroad in Summer or J-Term programs, therefore, are still eligible to receive up to 6 credits towards their Batten BA.

How will studying abroad for a semester affect my Batten core curriculum? Will I miss required classes?

As a brief overview, Batten BA students are required to complete 42 credits for their major requirements, including 9 core classes distributed across four semesters as well as 15 Special Topics elective credit hours. A visual representation of this curriculum can be accessed below:

curriculum map


Most students who study abroad do so in their third year; any student who wishes to study abroad in their fourth year (7th or 8th semester) must obtain special permission from a Major Director or Association Dean. Assuming that Batten BA students interested in studying abroad for a semester will do so in their third year at UVA, they will miss the Batten core classes for either the Fall or the Spring semester for their cohort. In the fall semester, students take three core curriculum classes including Engaging Policy Communities, Research Methods & Data Analysis, and Behavioral Sciences and Civic Leadership. In the spring semester, the curriculum consists of two core curriculum classes including Economics of Public Policy and Ethical Challenges in the Policy Arena. Since fall classes are only taught in the fall, and spring classes are only taught in the spring, a student missing any core classes in their third year would be required to make those classes up in their fourth year. 

With this curriculum structure in mind, it is typically recommended for Batten students who wish to study abroad to do so in their sixth semester, or Spring semester of their third year. The primary advantage to studying abroad in the spring over the fall is that only two core classes, instead of three classes, have to be made up in your fourth year; studying abroad in the fall of your third year would give you a full slate of 15 credits of core classes to be completed in the fall of your fourth year. The third year fall is also an important semester for cohort bonding among students as the first semester of the Batten BA curriculum. With that said, it is still possible for a BA student to study abroad in the fall; it just may be slightly less convenient in the long term to do so. Sample core curriculums for Batten students studying abroad in the fall and the spring, respectively, are provided below:

fall curriculum mapspring curriculum map


Batten Student Spotlight: Lily Hurt

Lily is a fourth year Batten BA student who participated in the UVA Oxford program for 3 weeks in the Summer of 2022. There were 40 other students participating in the program with Lily, which allowed her to enjoy smaller class sizes and the opportunity to engage with other visiting college groups on the Oxford campus. Lily took a history class on imperialism while abroad, and received 3 credits towards her history double major; since this was a UVA program, the credits were also included in her GPA calculation. When asked about her decision to study abroad over the summer, Lily asserted that she had wanted to study abroad her whole life, but found herself reluctant to give up a whole semester on Grounds after already losing half her college experience to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the timing of the UVA Oxford program fit neatly with her internship schedule, and she seized the opportunity to spend her last college summer in an academic environment as rich in history as Oxford.

While Lily chose to focus on her history double major while abroad, she found many opportunities to apply her Batten experience to her coursework, especially in widening her perspective on global policy. In gaining a deeper exposure to the history of the UK during World War II, Lily learned about how the war shaped the emergence of new UK healthcare and social policy initiatives. Further, she added that her program was offering other such classes relevant to Batten coursework that focused more specifically on the history of British policy and the modern politics of the European Union. Lily noted that she was especially fascinated to hear the British perspective on American politics, and felt that it vastly expanded her own understanding. “Lots of cultural differences that you barely consider in the moment give you an entirely new perspective on policy such that policy action impacts populations across the world, and isn’t just limited to the American scope.” Lily intends to live in Washington D.C. after graduation and work on the Hill as a staffer, where she hopes to apply the policy experience and independence skills she acquired over her time in Oxford.


What’s Next?

The Batten School is always willing to answer questions and encourages students to enhance their policy and leadership education by gaining a unique international perspective. If you are considering a study abroad program, have questions about credit eligibility or program compatibility with major requirements, or are looking for more information on studying abroad as a Batten student, schedule an appointment with Kristine Nelson, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Academic Programs, who is always happy to help.