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Study Abroad in HDS!

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Human Developmental Sciences strongly endorses study abroad as an excellent opportunity for personal and intellectual growth for HDS majors. A student whose chosen field of study is Human Development may especially benefit from experiences abroad while fulfilling their major or minor requirements. 

General Considerations

  • DEADLINES: Abroad applications need to be prepared in advance. The following is a rough timeline of the abroad process. Note this timeline is APPROXIMATE.  See the website for exact deadlines by program here:

    Application Year:

    Fall  Winter Spring             
    Investigate programs &        
    prepare applications
    Submit Applications
    (for SummerFall, and Full-year programs)    
    Submit Applications
    (for next Winter / Spring programs)


    Summer Fall / Full Year Winter / Spring
    Potential Abroad                  
    Potential Abroad                     
    Potential Abroad term--Spring Semester
    (usually overlaps Winter & Spring quarters) 

  • Human Developmental Sciences allows students to transfer up to (4) upper-division courses from outside of UC San Diego. Careful planning with advisors provides guidelines for choosing acceptable courses.
  • Courses may be approved provisionally, before departure, based on titles and descriptions.
  • Students must petition courses upon return from abroad.
  • It is recommended that students take HDS 1 and take at least 2 upper division courses in their major before going abroad. This should give students a better understanding of courses that may fulfill requirements for the major.
  • Please refer to the Study Abroad Office's HDS majors page for a general overview.

Preparing to Study Abroad

Preparing to Study Abroad

  1. Attend a Get Started information session offered by the Study Abroad Office at the International Center.
    • It is never too early to start planning for study abroad; in fact, some application deadlines may be as much as 10 months prior to the start of the program.
  2. Research the various programs and resources offered by the Study Abroad Office via the "Tritons Abroad" portal.
    • Research the types of programs offered (e.g. EAP, OAP, Global Seminars, etc.).
    • Utilize the Programs Abroad Office’s extensive library to learn about further study abroad options.
    • Attend general and country-specific information sessions.
  3. Schedule an appointment with a Study Abroad advisor.
  4. Obtain and complete the Academic Planning Form (this will be provided to you by the Programs Abroad Advisor).
    • Complete the front of the form.
      • Note: Courses taken for the HDS major must be preapproved (see step 5).
    • OAP students only: Submit the form to Admissions Office for approval before submitting it to HDS.
  5. Submit the form to all Major/Minor Departments.
    • Schedule an appointment with an HDS advisor.
      • If you plan to take HDS classes for HDS, Refer to the below section on "Tips for Choosing Courses Abroad for the HDS Major"
      • Collect a list of as many applicable courses--WITH COURSE DESCRIPTIONS--as possible that are applicable to the HDS major 
      • Submit these courses for HDS via our Preliminary Course Approval for Study Abroad Form before bringing your study abroad paperwork for signature. We will not sign off on HDS courses taken abroad without the course being submitted for preliminary approval with--at minimum--complete course descriptions, not just course titles.  If you do not plan to take any classes for HDS while abroad, you can skip this step
      • Please refer to the our Petitioning Courses page for a detailed guideline on how to receive approval for abroad courses both before you leave and after you return.
  6. Submit form to college advisors for review.
  7. Return the completed form to the Study Abroad Office.

While Studying Abroad

  1. Retain course materials for all courses taken with the intention to fulfill HDS requirements.
    • HDS requires a copy of the syllabus (at the very least) to determine if the courses taken will count to fulfill HDS requirements. It is beneficial for students to also retain exams, papers, written projects, reading lists and class notes.
  2. Students are highly encouraged to keep in contact with the HDS advisors via email ( or the virtual advising center (VAC) while abroad. Advisors can assist with questions regarding requirements, course transferability, or students can even simply update the advisors with their progress abroad.
  3. Students can still submit new course options discovered since completing their initial academic planning form--either before they leave, or while abroad-- via the Preliminary Course Approval for Study Abroad Form

Returning from Abroad

  1. Schedule an appointment with an HDS advisor.
  2. Complete a formal Undergraduate Student Petition for each course completed with the intention of fulfilling HDS requirements.
    • Along with the petition, include supporting documentation of coursework completed for the class. A copy of syllabus is required for each course and other helpful supporting documents to include are exams, papers, written projects, reading lists and class notes.
  3. Submit petitions and supporting materials to the HDS advisor.
  4. The petitions will be reviewed by the HDS Executive Committee and students will be notified of the results via e-mail.

Tips for Choosing Courses Abroad for an HDS Major/Minor

Because the HDS majors draw from several disciplines, it is important that the student, who plans to study abroad, have a good understanding of the breadth of the major. The program is divided broadly into three areas of study: Biological Development, Cognitive Development, and Socio-Cultural Development. When considering courses to take abroad, the student should consider classes that may fall into these three individual areas:

  • Biological Development: This area emphasizes the sensory and biological bases of development. It focuses on the dynamics of development and change in neurological, sensory, and perceptual processes which are basic to the development of cognitive and social functioning.
  • Cognitive Development: This area focuses on intellectual and emotional development across the life span. It examines the development of both linguistic and cognitive processes, and the affective and temperamental factors which shape our interaction with others.
  • Socio-Cultural Development: This area focuses on humans as they live as families, attend school, and participate in communities. Each of these institutions contribute to the development of skills in an individual.

Consider the following steps when searching for applicable courses abroad:

  1. Review the Human Developmental Sciences Degree Requirements to get a good idea of the biological, cognitive, and socio-cultural classes accepted for the major. Read the course descriptions in the UCSD General Catalog for a more detailed description of course content.

  2. When researching course offerings at the selected host university, look at courses in the following areas of discipline: anthropology, biology, child development, cognitive science, communication, culture studies, development studies, education, ethnic studies, gerontology, health science, history, human development, human services, linguistics, literature, neuroscience, nursing, psychology, sociology, urban studies and woman’s/gender studies.

  3. Look for upper division courses that offer a developmental component, such as courses dealing with different stages of life or traits/behaviors as they change.  

    What is meant by “Developmental”?
    Human development involves the transitions and transformations that take place over the lifespan.  Courses should look at human traits and behaviors as they progress OVER Time.

    Search course descriptions for keywords: Development, Developmental, growth, change, lifespan, learning, memory, acquisition, emergence, encoding, affect/effect, attachment, acclimatize, assimilate, cross-cultural, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adult, aging, evolution, longevity, illness, healing, disease.

    Course examples
    Real-time (not developmental) vs. Over time (developmental)
    Human Physiology (BILD 26, BIPN 100)
    Real-time functions of the adult
    human body
    Embryology (BICD 130)
    Growth and development of the
    human body from embryo to infant
    Cognitive Psychology (PSYC 3, PSYC 105)
    The study of the mind as an information processor: perception, attention, language, memory, thought, consciousness
    Cognitive Development (PSYC 136, 156)
    The emergence of the ability to consciously cognize, understand, and articulate understanding in adult terms
  4. BS Students: To take the Methods/Practicum Elective abroad, students should look for either a Research lab, project, internship, or practical training that provides the following:
    • Relates to aspects of human development
    • Provides letter grade credit that is based on academic work related to the course experience (example: the student has a final paper, project, or presentation addressing what was learned).  Credit simply for volunteering or training only, without an academic component, does not qualify
    • should be submitted for Preliminary Course Approval for Study Abroad
    • All course materials should be retained for petition upon return

  5. Select at least 6 possible classes to submit for Preliminary Approval.
    1. Please note that there is a strong possibility that not all selected courses will be offered by the host university during the time that you are there. or that each of them can fit your schedule. Its better to have a variety of options.

Examples of Petitioned and Accepted Courses

  • Genetics - University of Alcala de Henares, Spain
  • Gender, Sexuality & Family - La Trobe University, Australia
  • Sociology of Culture - La Trobe University, Australia
  • Initial Development - Universidad de Barcelona, Spain
  • Infancy Neuropsychology - Universidad de Barcelona, Spain
  • Sociology of Gender - National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Aging and Adulthood - University of B.C., Canada
  • Developmental Biology - Hebrew University, Israel
  • Linguistic Development - Hebrew University, Israel
  • Psychology of Adolescence - Hebrew University, Israel

Additional Information

For more information about preparation for studying abroad please refer to: