History Graduate Semester-Abroad Track

Toulouse, France

Spend a semester in Toulouse, France, or Bochum, Germany, studying history at a world-class, European university, while acquiring a strong foundation in German or French.

An amazing experience in its own right, the Semester-Abroad Track provides students with a competitive edge in our increasingly globalized world. You will acquire essential language skills, learn how to navigate a culture not your own and have the opportunity to network with students from all over the world, many of whom will be the future leaders in their field.  These skills, along with the critical thinking, writing, research and analytical skills you will acquire as a history graduate student, will position you for a variety of careers ranging from politics to journalism to business to law.

And if you are thinking about going on for a Ph.D., you can use the Semester-Abroad Track to acquire one of the languages that are required by doctoral programs in not only history but also several of the humanities and social sciences. Acquiring one of these languages before applying to doctoral programs will give you a competitive edge during the application process and increase your chances of success once admitted.

Bochum, Germany

History semester-abroad track costs

Your CMU tuition will cover your tuition during the academic semester. Students typically find that their housing and food costs are lower abroad than in the States.

You will need to pay for the intensive language course, which takes place before the academic semester begins. The cost for this course ranges from 500 Euro to 1200 Euro depending on the institution.

There are some incidental fees.  At CMU, you will have a $150 study-abroad administrative fee. You will also have to cover the cost of a passport, if you don't have one, as well as visa fees.  At some partner universities, you will be charged a student fee but will then be eligible for student rates for meals and discounted or free public transportation.

Getting to and from Europe can be surprisingly affordable, if you begin early and are creative. Travelling within Europe is often surprisingly economical with youth hostels costing around 25 Euro per night including breakfast and round-trip airline tickets to cities throughout Europe often available for as little as 15 Euro through the various European discount airlines.

Scholarships for the history semester-abroad track

At the moment, the History Department has two scholarships for which students may apply.

Quick Scholarship: Through the kind generosity of Albert and Brenda Quick, the History Department is able to provide scholarship recipients with up to $1000 to support graduate history study abroad.

Erasmus Stipend: For students going to the Ruhr-Universität-Bochum in the 2019-2020 academic year, the Erasmus stipend provides the recipient with approximately 4,000 Euro to offset the cost of studying at RUB.

Students may also apply for scholarships from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences as well as the Study Abroad Office.

Frequently asked questions for the history graduate semester-abroad track

There are no formal requirements, but you will want to have a solid graduate-level understanding of history before you tackle history courses taught in another language.  The best way to acquire that foundation is to complete at least nine hours of history at the graduate level before heading abroad, including HST 600, a seminar and a colloquium.

The formal part of your language instruction is a  three- credit French or German course FRN 597 or GER 597) which consists of:

1) a semester of an undergraduate language course at CMU before going abroad;

2) 8-10 weeks of intensive language instruction in Bochum or Toulouse before the academic semester;

3) an optional language course taken during the academic semester; and

4) a reading knowledge exam upon your return.

Your formal language instruction provides a foundation on which you will build once you begin taking history classes at the host institution. This is one of the strengths of the Study Abroad Track for MA students. The program is structured in such a way that you are able to acquire and strengthen your language skills at the same time that you are advancing your history studies.

If you already have strong German or French language skills, you can request a waiver of the language requirement. In this case, you would go straight into academic classes taught in the target language.

Both the Université de Toulouse and the Ruhr-Universität-Bochum have extensive offerings in European and American history. Most of these are taught in French or German. But, it is not a bad idea to take a course or two in English, offered by both regular faculty and visiting scholars.

Most professors will permit you to submit your papers and to do your presentations in English, although you will need to check with each professor at the beginning of the semester.

After you return to CMU, you will take a graduate reading knowledge exam. The grade you receive on the exam will be your grade for GER 597 or FRN 597. Students who have taken full advantage of language opportunities while abroad have typically had no trouble passing the exam upon their return. And they have tended to do better on the exam than students who had several years of a language when they were in high school.

You should contact the Director of History Graduate before classes begin in the semester preceding your semester abroad. At that meeting you will go over how to enroll in a language class. You will also be put in touch with (1) your study-abroad advisor, who will guide you through the initial stages of the study abroad processes; (2) the Study Abroad Office at the host university, which will help you register for your intensive language class and arrange housing; (3) the faculty member at the host university, who will help you enroll in history classes.