Undergraduate Research

Some study abroad programs offer opportunities for students to focus on and investigate a topic of their choice and write an in-depth capstone-like paper.  Sometimes this is supplemented by oral presentation to local faculty.  For some students, this work leads to a formal senior thesis or capstone.  Some are nominated for professional recognition and awards.

Most commonly defined as ‘research’, undergraduates are more accurately engaged in ‘field study’.  For many, this is their first time in the country.  Language and culture differences, adjustment to new configurations of identity and privilege, and the practicalities of gathering, disseminating, and completing a project in a very limited amount of time make this a challenging activity.  Delivering a result that demonstrates fair representation and no assumption is what makes for a successful project.

The Forum on Education Abroad has established Guidelines for Undergraduate Research Abroad that outline all of this to help both the student and their faculty mentor be successful.

Some examples of program portfolios that offer this exceptional opportunity:


This portfolio of study abroad programs offer thematic curricula supporting cultural immersion pedagogy. In addition to content coursework, students are prepared through a research methods and ethic course to complete an in-depth, field-based project known as the Independent Study Project (ISP).   In each case, the project involves conducting original fieldwork, giving a final presentation, and writing a formal research paper. Students are required to examine the ethics of their research and consider its impact on local communities. For samples of student ISPs, go to the SIT Digital Collections page.

For a list of programs by theme, go to the SIT search engine.  Themes include:

  • Climate | Environment
  • Development | Economy | Inequality
  • Global Health
  • Media | Arts | Social Change
  • Migration | Identity | Resilience
  • Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements


This portfolio of programs is centered around environmental field studies and human ecology, with curricula anchored in 5 year research plans in 8 locations.  Examples of faculty and student research projects from Spring 2015 can be found here.

Each program and research station focuses on topics relevant to that specific location.

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