Study Abroad


Why study abroad?

College of Design International Programs provide personal, academic and professional benefits that will extend far beyond your last day abroad. Studying abroad will help you to become more independent and flexible, to develop problem-solving and leadership skills, to increase your creativity and confidence, and to handle stressful situations better.

Depending on the program you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to study with College of Design faculty members and/or distinguished local lecturers. You can fulfill degree requirements while seeing the world. Museums, galleries, buildings, outdoor spaces and monuments abroad will become your classroom as you explore first hand what you’ve been learning about in textbooks here in Ames.

Many of our programs also emphasize links with local universities and professionals through studio visits, guest lecturers and workshops. In addition, studying abroad can also help you to develop dynamic portfolio pieces that will set you apart from other job applicants.


What types of programs are available?

The College of Design features three types of international programs to help you fulfill your goal of studying abroad.

College of Design Rome Program

Since 1991, more than 2,000 students have studied in Rome through the College of Design’s flagship international program -- the first fully licensed study-abroad program in the Iowa regents’ system. Full-semester study options are available for graphic design, interior design, integrated studio arts and BA students each fall, and for architecture, community and regional planning and landscape architecture students each spring. The summer program offers classes for industrial design students. Students attend classes at our studio facilities in the historic center of Rome at Palazzo Cenci-Bolognetti, a 16th-century building located in the Piazza delle Cinque Scole near the Tiber River.

Short-Term Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

The College of Design offers a variety of short-term programs throughout the academic year that are led by College of Design faculty members. Some programs are major-specific and others are open to all majors in the college. Time abroad ranges from five days to five weeks, and students earn between two and four ISU credits depending on the program.

Reciprocal Student Exchange Programs

Some majors in the college have agreements that allow students to study for a semester or an academic year at a partner institution abroad where classes are normally taught in English. Exchange programs are limited to smaller numbers of students (usually two per semester) and provide the additional advantages of a more independent experience abroad with a higher level of cultural immersion. Students pay ISU tuition and fees when participating, and credits are transferred back to ISU from the host institution. Students from the partner institution will travel to Ames to study while ISU students are abroad.


What is available in 2015-2016 for Architecture majors?

College of Design Rome Program: Architecture majors participate in the program during the spring of the fourth year. During this semester, you will be able to fulfill degree requirements, including studio (Dsn S 546), HTC electives (Arch 429 or Arch 486), and professional or general electives (Arch 431 and Dsn S 492).

Short-Term Faculty-Led Options

Architectural Design in Kigali, Rwanda: Students enrolled in Arch 401 section RW in fall 2015 will start with a study of the environmental, physical and social conditions in Kigali and focus on a neighborhood for architectural intervention. The studio will conclude with a two-week trip to Kigali, overlapping with Thanksgiving Break, in which students will conduct a design workshop with students at the University of Rwanda and visit important architectural sites to study contemporary sustainable design in the region. Through this course, students will learn to design within tropical environmental conditions, cultural practices and building techniques of East Africa. They will also address sustainable design practices and the contemporary architectural challenges of informal urbanism that is prevalent in the developing world.

Studio Andino: This option studio looks at the urban history and contemporary issues of three primate cities that constitute the Andean ecological and cultural region--Bogota, Quito, and La Paz--with an historical overview of the region’s indigenous and colonial evolution through a visit to Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. The class meets for the entire spring semester in Ames and with a travel component to Peru around Spring Break.

Summer Academy Berlin: In collaboration with faculty and students from Berlin and other U.S. architecture programs, this summer academy builds upon several previous programs and continues the exploration of possibilities to design an urban architectural environment for a low-carbon lifestyle. This intense design program will allow you to investigate technical requirements and architectural opportunities. In addition to ISU faculty, leading Berlin professionals will work with you on ideas and potentials.

If you have completed Arch 401 and are accepted to participate in Summer Academy Berlin, you can take the program for four credits in the summer and add a two-credit independent study in the fall after you return. These six combined credits will substitute for a studio requirement in your fifth year of the architecture program, meaning you could graduate early!


Additional short-term faculty-led options for summer 2016 may be announced in fall 2015.


Exchange Options

University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia

IE University in Madrid, Spain

University of Roma Tre in Rome, Italy

Tongji University in Shanghai, China

Southeast University in Nanjing, China


When can I go abroad?

Year 1 – Core program

Participants in College of Design study abroad programs must be accepted into their program of study because our programs are usually major-specific. In addition, you should have a certain amount of knowledge about your major before you travel abroad to study it. However, it’s never too early to start thinking about studying abroad and start saving money for an experience after you are accepted into a program of study.

Year 2

After you have been accepted into your program of study, you can focus more on exploring options specific to your major, and you can establish a savings plan to help finance your experience abroad.

Year 3

Summer Academy Berlin: Apply at ISUAbroad before the application deadline, which is normally in February before the program starts in June. This program is also an option in Year 4.

IE University: Apply at ISUAbroad before the application deadline, which is normally in April before the program starts in September (of your fourth year).

Year 4

Architectural Design in Kigali, Rwanda: Choose Arch 401 section RW in August when fall studio options become available.

College of Design Rome Program: Take Dsn S 301 in the fall of your fourth year. You will submit your ISUAbroad application for the program during Dsn S 301.

Exchanges: If you are interested in participating in an exchange program other than IE University, apply at ISUAbroad before the application deadline, which is normally in October before the exchange starts in January or February (depending on the host university’s calendar).

Summer Academy Berlin: Apply at ISUAbroad before the application deadline, which is normally in February before the program starts in June.

Year 5

Studio Andino: Pick this option studio as your number one choice during the fall of your fifth year. After you've been placed in Dsn S 546 section PE, an ISUAbroad application will be created for you. You will need to complete it before the deadline, which is usually in November or December.


Can I afford to study abroad?

A study abroad experience may be more affordable than you think! Consider the study abroad options for your major as soon as possible and start saving money. Even putting $50 or $100 into a savings account each month can make a big difference. Scholarships from the College of Design, Iowa State University and independent entities are available at the links below. You can also use financial aid to fund a study abroad experience. The Office of Student Financial Aid will receive a list of students committed to participate in a study abroad program, and each student’s aid will be adjusted to assist with the expenses listed in the program budget.

Scholarship resources

College of Design scholarships (search by major or by study abroad)

Office of Student Financial Aid scholarships

Study Abroad Center resources

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

For questions about study abroad financial aid, please contact Tiffany Ahrenholtz in the Office of Student Financial aid.


What is the application process?

All ISU students interested in studying abroad need to create an application for their chosen program through ISUAbroad. The program links above will take you directly to ISUAbroad program brochures where you can learn more about each program and start your application, which will be completed in two parts. Each program’s application asks for different information, but in general, you must complete all signature documents, questionnaires and learning content in both application parts. After you submit the first part of your application, the faculty member leading the program and/or the college’s international programs coordinator will review it. If you are accepted to participate, you will be asked to formally commit to your offer at ISUAbroad. There will then be a second part of the ISUAbroad application to finish prior to departure.


Are there any other international options available?

College of Design students may also participate in programs offered through other colleges, the ISU Study Abroad Center or non-ISU programs. A searchable database of all programs is available here. If you want to explore other options, you will need to investigate with your academic advisor and your department how courses may or may not meet ISU degree requirements. ISU will not automatically accept transfer credit from all institutions, and a review of your work completed abroad may be required for the department to approve credit transfer.


Who can I talk to if I have questions?

Contact Mark Chidister, associate dean for academic programs, if you have questions about studying abroad.