Orange Alert

Unlocking Global Opportunities

A&S | Maxwell offer tailored study abroad programs for science and pre-health majors.

April 9, 2024, by Caroline K. Reff

Students in front of Cybeles Palace
Syracuse University students in front of the Cibeles Palace, which serves as Madrid’s city hall. (Courtesy: Instagram @syracuseUmadrid)

Roma Agarwal ’27 is majoring in biology at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Like many students pursuing the sciences, her academic schedule is tightly defined, making it difficult to fit in a semester abroad. But, thanks to A&S’ new offering, Health and Science in Madrid, Agarwal is ready to pack her suitcase for an experiential learning semester in Spain this fall, while also staying on track with her coursework.

“The Madrid program felt perfect for me because I always knew going abroad was something I wanted to do,” says Agarwal. “I like how there is now a program specifically tailored towards health science, which is something I think is very unique. And, I love the option to take part in the signature seminar, as well. I think going abroad early in my college career is something I am ready for and an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.”

Syracuse Abroad has had a University-wide program in Madrid for years, but the typical junior year experience doesn’t accommodate most science students’ schedules. However, a survey of incoming A&S students for fall of 2023 showed that there was significant enthusiasm to go abroad from those planning to major in subjects like biology, chemistry, biochemistry and other pre-health programs. Steven Schaffling, assistant dean for student success, and Elena Paolini Williams, director of first year advising, academic and career advising, for the College of Arts and Sciences | Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, decided there was enough interest to pilot a unique opportunity for these students to go to Madrid during sophomore year for a semester in cooperation with Syracuse Abroad.

“An important element of expanding our abroad offerings is designing programming specifically for those majors with course requirements that make it a challenge to complete a semester abroad or away,” says Schaffling. “Our biology program, for example, is one of the largest majors we have, but the abroad participation is low because of the curriculum requirements. Intentionally building a program that keeps the course sequence intact for our science and pre-health majors is critical to increasing their participation in a semester abroad.”

A group of students standing around a mineral in a museum.

A group of Syracuse students at Madrid’s Geomineral Museum. (Courtesy: Instagram @syracuseUmadrid)

Starting in the 2024-25 academic year, science and pre-health students from A&S and Maxwell can spend their sophomore fall semester in Madrid, where they will be able to complete required courses like Cross-Cultural Psychology, Sexuality in Spain, and Healthcare in Europe: A Comparative Approach. All University students going to Madrid are required to take CAS 200: Mapping Spain, but a signature section specifically tailored to the needs of science-minded students has been developed for the pilot program. Best of all, science students will still be able to interact with other peers spending the semester in Madrid and participate in many of the same cultural and social activities the abroad experience provides.

The addition of Health and Science in Madrid fits in well with A&S’ Academic Strategic Plan, which includes a signature standard of excellence called “Understanding and Reimagining Worlds.” One of the specific examples outlined in the plan is “bridging worlds through comparative, cross-cultural and multilingual research, teaching and study away and abroad.”

The first group of science students will head to Madrid this fall. As of April 1, 25 students pursuing science at A&S or a pre-health track at Maxwell had committed to the Health and Science Madrid option through Syracuse Abroad. If the program is successful and interest remains high, A&S hopes to make the experience annual, as well as adapt the program for additional majors like psychology.

“While going abroad is not required at the College of Arts and Sciences, there is a real level of self-discovery that comes from the experience. Often, students who do go abroad say they wish they could have gone earlier. In fact, no student I’ve ever talked to regretted their semester abroad,” says Williams. “The cultural exposure from staying with host families, taking language courses and traveling within their chosen city and beyond is a great way to become more open-minded and independent.”

For more information about Health and Science Madrid, visit the Syracuse Abroad website.

Media Contact

Caroline K. Reff