Go on the adventure of a lifetime

Study abroad is a life-changing experience that helps advance academic, personal, and professional growth.

The College of Design features three types of international programs: the Rome Program, short-term faculty-led programs, and reciprocal student exchange programs.

Need help deciding on a program?

Staff in the Study Abroad Center and the College of Design’s Office of International Programs and Services provide essential services, including planning and support to make the most of your experience.

  • 65%

    of students in the College of Design participate in a study abroad opportunity during their academic studies.

  • $50,000

     in scholarships are awarded annually supporting study abroad.

Fulfill degree requirements while seeing the world

Museums, galleries, buildings, outdoor spaces and monuments abroad will become your classroom as you explore firsthand 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 lectures, and workshops. Studying abroad can also help you to develop dynamic portfolio pieces that will set you apart from other job applicants.

  • College of Design Rome Program

    Since 1991, more than 3,000 design students have studied in Rome through the college’s flagship international program – the first fully licensed study-abroad program in the Iowa regents’ system.

    Students attend classes at the College of Design’s 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. Classes are taught in English by Rome-based American and European instructors. Apartment-style housing is provided by the program, located within walking distance to the studio.

  • 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 Iowa State credits depending on the program.

    Recent short-term abroad opportunities included programs in Vienna, Austria; Berlin, Germany; Venice, Italy; Paris, France; United Kingdom and Sweden; Kamuli, Uganda and Accra, Ghana; and Europe and Morocco.

  • 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, while students from the partner institution travel to Ames. Exchange programs are limited to smaller numbers of students and provide an independent experience abroad with a higher level of cultural immersion. Students pay Iowa State tuition and fees when participating, and credits are transferred back to Iowa State from the host institution.

    Recent exchange opportunities included University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia; IE University in Segovia, Spain; University of Roma Tre in Rome, Italy; Tongji University in Shanghai, China; Swedish Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden; and Architectural Institute in Prague, Czech Republic.

Tips and resources for students studying abroad

The health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff who participate in Iowa State programs abroad is of the highest importance. If you’re considering studying abroad, please review the resources and tips provided by the Iowa State University Study Abroad Center to ensure you’re prepared.

The best tips to study abroad safely include traveling in groups, knowing where the embassy is located, keeping backup documents, securing valuables, understanding local customs and laws, and learning common phrases. Below are some additional resources that can help you as you plan.

ISU International Insurance – OnCall
COVID19 Updates
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – Travelers’s Health
MD Travel Health
Safety Abroad First Educational Travel Information
State Department – U.S. Students Abroad

You have found the study abroad program of your dreams; now how are you going to pay for it?

Take a look at the Study Abroad Center’s website for resources for using financial aid toward a study abroad program as well as help finding and applying for study abroad scholarships. You will also find information about program costs and budget sheets.

Additional resources:

ISU Financial Aid Information

GoOverseas Budget Guide (PDF)

When you travel abroad, you will also need to think about how you will handle your money while in another country. The Study Abroad Center offers tips and resources for accessing and handling money while in your program abroad.

Packing is often one of the most difficult aspects of travel, both to and from your host country. While you should ultimately keep in mind the weather, climate, and local dress, here are a few items that should fit:

  • Bring travel containers for toiletries instead of disposable mini versions.
  • Bring your reusable water bottle, coffee mug, and silverware!
  • Pack clothes that can be washed less and/or that air dry quickly.
  • Bring a reusable tote for groceries, laundry, and even extra space for your return to the US.

When purchasing souvenirs or mementos reflect on what items you can and cannot buy abroad, especially when contrasted against the length of your stay. Think critically about the clothes, toiletries, and accessories you will need. It is okay to buy souvenirs, but you should not buy things you will only throw away upon arrival. Think about non-physical souvenirs such as taking photos, making trip-specific playlists, or journaling, blogging, or maintaining a social media account about your experiences.

Look for local organizations, clubs, projects, or classes you can take that focus on sustainability. Doing this allows you to directly engage with and impact the community. While options may be limited, depending on your program type, the duration of your stay, and the host-country itself, there are always ways to be involved. If you haven’t already, check out options on campus, and think about how they might apply to study abroad.

To study abroad is to become a global citizen. As such, it is important to leave your host country with a positive impression of you/your culture/the US by respecting the local culture, history, language, and environment. Making a conscious effort to reduce your environmental footprint while traveling is also part of being a global citizen and learning how to live sustainably in your host country is no different from learning how to adapt to local customs, accents, or dress. It requires a concentrated effort to understand not only local sustainability efforts, but how you can help support them.

Be mindful of waste

Pay attention to how waste is handled in your host country. Do locals recycle? What about compost? How does waste management differ from home? Remember that throwing the wrong or dirty materials into a recycling or compost bin can contaminate the whole amount of waste, resulting in it being sent to the landfill instead.

Conserve water and energy

Many countries abroad conserve water and energy a lot more than in the US, either due to the price, the availability, or the public commitment to sustainability. This can mean many things: taking shorter showers, hand-washing dishes, air-drying laundry, and turning off power sockets, lights, and other uses of energy.

Use public transportation

Public transportation (trains, buses, metros) will generally be much more robust than what you are used to, and as a student, your ability to travel in your host country will be determined by its availability. Public transportation, as well as traveling by bike, is not only more sustainable than travel by car or airplane but is an inexpensive way to explore. Depending on the duration of your stay, you might want to get a bike rental pass or a metro pass. Likewise, it may be both easier and more fun to look into traveling by train rather than by plane, which will allow you to limit your carbon emissions while also being able to see much more of your host country and surrounding areas.

Explore sustainable diets

A quintessential element of travel is the food. While studying abroad, look carefully at what the locals eat, and what foods result in the lowest carbon footprint. Vegetables, legumes, and grains are all great choices; eggs, yogurt, fish, and poultry also provide many nutrients while leaving a medium carbon footprint. To have the lowest impact with your food choices, eat pork, cheese, beef, and lamb rarely or not at all.

International education is open, available, and encouraged for students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, or levels of ability. Our hope is that all students have a safe and rewarding experience, and it’s important to consider your personal identity and how those identities may affect your experience within a particular country or culture. It is encouraged that students seek to understand the culture, customs, and expectations of where they will be traveling and to prepare in advance to avoid any potentially dangerous situations. 

The Study Abroad Center offers resources for first-generation, LGBTQIA+, and multicultural students, as well as students with disabilities. Military and veteran student resources are also available.

Explore identity-based resources

Ask questions or request information

The Study Abroad Center offers a range of resources and information for students to consider before applying for a study abroad program, and the College of Design’s staff is also available to help students interested in planning a trip as part of their degree program.

Future Students

Exploring college opportunities is a big deal, and we are here to support you along every step of the way!

Current Students

Jen Hogan

Jen Hogan

International Programs Director

Students working on class project in the King Pavillion.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.