Study Abroad

JMU’s first study abroad program took place in London in 1979 under the guidance of Ralph Cohen, an English professor at the university.

london1978Prof. Cohen, a Shakespeare scholar, taught the 28 students on that first trip a great deal about English literature by immersing them in the atmosphere of the city.

londonThey ate in the pubs, saw art in the museums, and watched plays on the famous stages of London. After that first trip, JMU’s study abroad program was born.

paris1985After a short-lived program to Paris, the successful London program was follwed by the establishment of JMU semester-long opportunities in Florence (1986), Salamanca (1987), and Antwerp (2002), all of which continue to be offered today.

1991The possibilities for JMU students to study abroad have grown tremendously in the development of many student exchanges and summer trips to countries around the world.

RomaniaJMU’s efforts to expand the availability of international experiences have given tens of thousands of students the chance to study in places from Northern Ireland to Ghana, Chile to China.

carNumerous partnerships with other universities help to make the resources of other countries available to our students; and JMU available to them. The Office of International Programs works with Kenyatta University in Kenya and the University of Malta and Hiroshima University, among many others.


This year, JMU begins a three-year presidency of the International Network of Universities which is certain to deepen the bonds of our university with other institutions around the world and provide students with even more opportunities.

2011In recent years, OIP has sought to increase the number of general education classes offered through the summer programs, so that more students can use those trips to cover general degree requirements. This has meant that many more JMU students have been able to take the time to see the world as they learn more about it.

Here in Special Collections, we have numerous reports and publications from the study abroad programs from over the years, but we we would love to hear more from the students and alumni about what these trips have meant for them. Please share your thoughts with everyone in the comments or consider bringing in some of the documents that show what it was like to travel the world.



About Mark Peterson

Rare Books and Research Services Librarian at James Madison University Libraries.

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