International Study Options

“International Studies at COA is guided by an urgent and compelling sense of the need to work as intelligently, effectively, and wisely as we can to bring about a world of dramatically greater justice, peace, cultural flourishing and right relationship to our beloved blue-green planet. We believe that every student is an international student. As a community, we help you prepare for jobs that do not yet exist in a world that has not yet arrived. Through our integrated, multi-layered, international philosophy, we challenge you to go out and create those jobs, create that world.” –Professor Gray Cox

College Programs

College of the Atlantic offers a number of opportunities to study abroad. The goal of the International Studies Program is to extend our Human Ecology curriculum into international and intercultural settings. We seek to carry out interdisciplinary and collaborative teaching and learning in a variety of field settings. Students travel with faculty on field courses in Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, and the Caribbean as well as conduct internships and independent study around the globe. Spend a term immersed in the Spanish language and Mayan culture in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Conduct ethnographic field work and learn an indigenous Mayan language in Guatemala. Travel to Vichy, France to try your tongue at French and work with a local organization. Spend a term reading about the history, culture, and science of the sea before boarding a sail-training schooner bound for a two-week Caribbean voyage. That’s just to name a few. Other opportunities have included travel and study in Tobago, Quebec, Newfoundland, and Labrador. New programs are always in the works, depending on student interests.


These ten-week, student-designed projects earn a full trimester of credit and allow for advanced, in-depth, independent studies that augment and synthesize conventional coursework. While students are not required to travel off-campus, many do conduct their study in countries other than the United States. The residency option offers the opportunity to design a personalized, advanced, and relevant form of international study. Students have conducted a wide range of studies – from writing residencies in Italy and investigations of fair trade practices across Africa and Latin America, to explorations of the textile industry of Afghanistan and birth practices in Ecuador.


 A graduation requirement, each student completes at least one ten-week internship. The COA internship is a practical exercise in applying academics to the world of work. The internship relates to the student's career goals, academic program or personal interests, and enables students to outline the relevance of work to their interpretation of human ecology. Many students choose internships abroad – with community based organizations in East Africa, women’s groups in Costa Rica, photographers in London, artisans in the Yucatan, environmentalists in India, ornithologists in Bolivia, and the list runs on!

Senior Projects

 At its core, a COA education draws on the recognition and examination of the connections between various disciplines. With this in mind, students focus their interests by looking through many different lenses. The Senior Project stands as the culmination of this interdisciplinary experience. Final projects are as individual as the students who create them. Students often utilize this opportunity to conduct work internationally. Some combine their internship with their senior project to allow for a more extensive project. COA students have taken their senior projects across continents. Examples include research on HIV/AIDS in Kenya, naturalist artwork on bird species in the Yucatan, research on NAFTA and the Zapatistas across Mexico, a botanical study of Sri Lankan flora, an investigation on the politics of collaboration between governments and civil society in Poland and the Ukraine, and a study on the development of feminist consciousness in Argentina. Explore a wider list of projects in our archive.


 Although international and interdisciplinary learning is an integrated thread in almost every course at COA, we do offer specific content courses in Development Studies, International Environmental Diplomacy, Peace Studies, Cultural and Community Studies, and Global Studies. Students have also conducted their own advanced academic learning through tutorials (one-on-one mentoring with a faculty or professional advisor), independent studies (self-guided study, supervised by a faculty advisor), and group studies (group-guided study, supervised by a faculty advisor).

International Environmental Diplomacy

 The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development proclaimed “the creativity, ideals, and courage of youth of the world should be mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and ensure a better future for all.” COA’s International Environmental Diplomacy program seeks to empower a group of students to do just that. Integrating thought and action at both local and global levels, it incorporates interdisciplinary courses, independent work, language learning, internships, residencies, and advanced senior projects. Through the International Environmental Diplomacy initiative, students have traveled to global summits, conferences, and conventions in Johannesburg, South Africa; Bangalore, India; Curitiba, Brazil; Nairobi, Kenya; Istanbul, Turkey; Copenhagen; and Dubai, to name a few.

Language Learning

 The experience of learning languages is fundamental to education in Human Ecology. Each new language we learn enables us to dialogue and collaborate with the people, points of view, and insights of another culture. More fundamentally, for each of us, the experience of learning at least one second language, in depth, provides radical insight into the character and limitations of ourselves and the enormous possibilities that surround us. The college seeks to provide every student the opportunity to hone and deepen existing language skills, provide every student the opportunity to learn a new language, and to support academic work in students’ mother tongues. At College of the Atlantic you can take Spanish courses to prepare for an immersive trip to the Yucatan, accompanied with the chance to learn Yucatec and Maya. You can take classes in French or spend a term in France, immersed in the language and culture, with a chance to work with a local organization. COA also offers courses in Japanese and Classical Chinese. Students interested in additional languages often conduct independent studies with tutors whether locally or abroad. Many also utilize campus access to innovative language learning software.

Collaborative Programs

 Explore additional study abroad programs through our consortium agreements, such as Eco League. The five colleges belonging to EcoLeague are committed to cultivating environmentally-conscious learning.

Private Programs

 Some students find their study niche in independent programs or programs through other colleges. Whether that means traveling across hemispheres exploring the nuances of environmental science, economies in transition, international relations, or gender relations our students have taken part in semester-long studies abroad through options such as the International Honors Programs, the School for International Training, and Antioch Education Abroad.