Hello fellow Beavers!!
I should probably start this blog with stating my bias… because on this topic I am 100% of one opinion and it’s only fair to admit it right? I think the International Degree is the best thing ever. It is the reason I chose OSU hands down and I think it is crazy that people who know about it don’t do it.
That said there are many people I have talked to about it who don’t know what it is. If you are one of those people this blog may change your life. Maybe that’s overly enthusiastic but seriously this is cool, keep reading!
The website (http://oregonstate.edu/international/degree) explains the degree as follows: “In-depth knowledge of another language & culture, broader awareness of the world, & a profound understanding of the international applications of your major equals a concurrent BA in International Studies!”
Essentially what happens is you pick a B.S. or B.A. in something; for me a B.A. in Political Science. What you do is take that B.A. or B.S. and add to it. You have to get to the 4th year in a foreign language, spend 10 weeks in a country that speaks that language (Oh what a terrible requirement huh?), take 4 International Degree core courses and in the end write a thesis that has to do with your major. So for me I am in my 4th year of Spanish, spent 10 weeks last summer in gorgeous Argentina, took the four core courses and will be writing my thesis about the political motivation of disappearing people during the latest dictatorship in Argentina next term. When I graduate in June I will have a B.A. in Political Science and an International Degree in Political Science.
Sidenote: you can kind of double dip in a way. Because I had to take so much Spanish I decided to minor in it. All my Spanish language classes count towards both my minor’s language requirements and my International Degree. The only other thing I needed to do in order to minor was take two culture classes… cake! Though this only works with a minor – I couldn’t count my bacc core classes as my ID core classes or vice versa.
Back to the degree…
If you want to check it out all you need to do is go to the website I listed above. It has links that take you to the graduation requirements, the application to the program and a pretty cool tool. This pretty cool tool helps you pick where you will study abroad for your 10 weeks. You can enter the foreign language you want to speak, your topic (Political Science or something else) and when you want to go or how long you want to go and it spits out every program that fits your parameters. So for example when I used it I put in that I wanted to focus on Political Science, Law or Human Rights as my area of study, I wanted to go in the summer of 2011 and I wanted a Spanish speaking country. It spit out three programs, one in Mexico, one in Spain and one in Argentina and it gave me the links to each program. Clicking on the links takes you to those programs pages where you can look at their admission requirements, the classes they offer, the trips they offer (BEST PART!) and the cost of the program. It also tells you the length of the program… remember you need 10 weeks but you can do a bit of simple finagling if you need to. For example having been to Mexico and Europe I wanted to go to Argentina but it only offered 5 week programs in two sessions over the summer. So I signed up for both sessions, so two 5 week programs in a row, in the same place for a total of 10 weeks – totally works!
A lot of people ask me why I would go to the extra work to do this assuming that I’m spending more than the stereotypical 4 years here at OSU. I have a couple things to say about that…
- Extra work? WHAT?! It definitely was not work to spend 10 weeks in a foreign country. I love to travel! Personally I wanted to learn Spanish considering how useful it is. The ID core courses… there are only 4 (!) and you can pick which ones you want to take so all you have to do is pick ones you like. The thesis… yes that is intimidating. I’m honestly a little bit nervous about it but it isn’t like you are left alone to write it; you take an International Degree thesis course (once a week every other week, so easy!) and they get you started on it. The term you write your thesis you work with a professor in your major and they help you finish it!
- Extra time? I won’t lie; there were some terms when I took quite a course load with maximum or more credits. Was it hard? A little bit but it was worth it. And if you don’t want to or can’t take that many credits than you don’t have to. I have a friend that is in the program and she is taking an extra year (so 5 years) to complete it. IS that a problem? No. Either way you do it, it is totally worth it!
- Why is it worth it? Because you have 2 degrees when you graduate! I know, going into the Peace Corps and then graduate school and eventually taking the foreign service exam and interview etc. that when it says Amber Gomes, B.A. Political Science, International Degree Political Science and Spanish Minor combined with my experience abroad first as a student and then as a volunteer, that I will be taken seriously. Not only that but I will undoubtedly be a step or two ahead of my job competitors with one degree, no foreign language proficiency and no experience abroad. I know people think those things obviously help a Political Science major but what about my major? Think about how globally oriented our world is becoming. America is no longer an isolationist entity… knowledge about a foreign culture, proficiency in cultural awareness and the demonstrated ability to handle different cultures is going to be useful in any job you get.
I could blog about this for ages… it’s impossible to sum up the International Degree experience and benefits in just a couple pages, but I know I shouldn’t. Basically if this has interested you at all my best advice is to go visit the International Degree office in Snell on the 4th floor. The people there, Nick Fleury the Head Advisor, LeAnn Adam another advisor, and many others can answer all of your questions and help you figure out everything from whether or not this is the degree for you to how to apply your financial aid to a study abroad.
Maybe I’ll see you at one of the International Degree events someday!
Cheers Beavers! Good luck on those midterms!