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First Year Abroad offers foundational college courses taught by CIEE local instructors to start your four-year college degree. We combine rigorous intro-level academic courses with unforgettable experiences outside the classroom to create a curriculum fostering academic, intercultural, and professional skills that help you succeed in college and the world beyond.  

Our curriculum includes general education courses from major disciplines that offer you college credits to stay on track. Choose lecture and lab courses from the Arts and Humanities, World Language, Natural and Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Social Sciences, as well as courses specifically designed to help you develop organizational, writing and study skills to thrive in college. 

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Academic Support

CIEE First-Year Abroad students are assisted by a comprehensive academic support system to develop the tools and skills necessary for successful undergraduate studies while abroad and with the transition to attending college in the U.S. These services are provided by CIEE in partnership with Dean College, and may include one-on-one, group, or online advising and tutoring.  

Academic advisors support students with resources and guidance on academic norms, study habits, and success strategies for first year students studying abroad. Tutors are trained and experienced educators with expertise in their subject areas. They provide assistance with core course concepts, study strategies, academic writing, research, and time management.  

Together, academic advising and tutoring provide the resources and guidance needed to achieve academic success and make the most of your study abroad experience. 

Class Format 

Block Courses (Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, London, Paris, Rome, and Sydney): Take two courses per six-week block, and then do it again for a second block. You can even take one block in one location and do your second block in another! Block courses are 3 or 4 credits, contain requisite contact hours and content, and count for the same credit as if they were spread out over a traditional semester. This allows for more intense study of fewer subjects at once. Completing two blocks will give you 12-13 semester credits to keep you on track to graduate within four years.   

Semester Courses (Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Monteverde, Prague, Rabat, and Seville): The 12-week semester allows immersion in up to four courses at once, including those with labs or language classes. At this pace, you have ample time to dive deeply into course content while still experiencing your new home culture. It also allows you to study multiple subjects at once. Most colleges offer 12-15 week semesters, setting you up for a familiar course structure back home. 

Embedded Intercultural Components


Embedded Intercultural Components

Courses have built-in co-curricular and other academic content tailored to your study abroad location. Museums, galleries, visits to local monuments, guest speakers by local experts, and other academic activities bring your studies and the local culture together in exciting ways.  

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Experiential Learning

Highly trained local instructors guide you to discovery in small classes that emphasize active learning. Short lectures are enhanced with activities that foster inquiry, like: creative projects, collaborative problem-solving, case study analyses, panel discussions, visits to local sites, conversations with peers, and reflecting on these experiences. Activities are built to impart knowledge and gain critical skills: academic, social, and emotional.  

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Our academics include a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusions, including in course design, instructor training, and course content.  Emphasis is placed on hearing and considering diverse perspectives on important issues. This also includes comparing how local and home cultures approach key topics. All students are equal partners in creating a community of inquiry and all learning styles are accommodated. Support is offered to those who learn at different rates.  


The U.S. grading scale of A-F is used. Students are graded on the basis of attendance, class participation, homework, project work, presentations, and mid-term and final examinations. Learning outcomes assessment is continuous through personal reflections, evaluation feedback, self-assessment, and requirements as set out in course syllabi. 

Language Of Instruction 


Language Prerequisites 

There are no specific language requirement for this program.  

Program Requirements 

Students are required to enroll in two courses each block.  

Program Credit 

Two blocks: 12-13 semester credits, 18-19.5 quarter credits  

Course Credit 

CIEE courses: typically, 3 U.S. semester/4.5 quarter credits; 45 contact hours 

Language courses: 4 U.S. semester/6 quarter credits; 60 contact hours for Beginning Language levels and Intermediate Japanese; 3 semester/4.5 quarter credits; 60 contact hours for all Intermediate level language instruction 

Lab courses: 4 U.S. semester/6 quarter credits; 60 contact hours