This page is intended for graduate students at the Swanson School of Engineering who are interested in a global experience. The following provides guidance but does address every situation. Please do reach out to the Global Experience and Engagement office with further questions.

The global experiences that are open to Masters and Ph.D. students are usually quite different from undergraduate study abroad programs.  Graduate students have fewer “structured” global options, and their academic planning can be more complicated.  But on the positive side, graduate students can sometimes go abroad for longer periods of time; their time abroad is often closely linked to their careers; and their experiences abroad are often “deeper” than those of undergraduates.

In addition to the information found on this page, SSOE graduate students should also review the SSOE intranet Global Experiences pages for graduate students

International Options for Graduate Students

There are very few structured global programs meant for graduate students.  You cannot assume that undergraduate global programs will work for your degree program.

SSOE Undergraduate Programs Open to Graduate Students

There are some SSOE-affiliated undergraduate global programs that will accept graduate students.  These options differ every year and you will need to confirm that the program is open to graduate students. One example of a program that is commonly open to graduate students is the Business and Engineering Collaborations: India program.

Any graduate student considering one of these programs must talk to their advisor at length, and well in advance of applying to the global experience, to determine if the experience fits their academic program of study.

Independent Experiences - as part of your graduate studies

A good relationship with one’s advisor/faculty in the program is critical to global experiences as a graduate student. Many graduate students who go abroad do so through "unofficial" opportunities arranged with their advisors.  One example would be collaborating on a research project with international colleagues of their advisor abroad.

Such experiences are usually less structured than undergraduate study abroad.  There may be no classes or organized excursions, and you may need to arrange your own housing.  The financial arrangements are unique in each case: funding may come from a national source, as part of a grant, from your home department, your own funding etc.

Global experiences like these are all different. They can allow students to be abroad longer than many traditional study abroad programs; they can help you to be more integrated into the local culture; they can introduce you to colleagues with whom you can develop long-term working relationships; and they offer considerable independence, which is usually attractive to graduate students.

These types of experiences are considered independent experiences and require Pitt students to register the experience for reasons of risk management and also to provide international health and accident insurance for the duration of the approved experience.


Graduate students can sometimes find funding through a grant to attend international conferences.  While these experiences are often very short, they are worthwhile, and can be of help in research and networking efforts. Pitt graduate students who participate in global conferences must also register the experience for reasons of risk management and also to provide international health and accident insurance for the duration of the approved experience.

Additional Experiences

A few options to consider—not an exhaustive list—for further global experiences is below.  More information is available on the Pitt GEO website

Fulbright Grants

Graduate students can also design their own programs abroad through a US Student Fulbright Grant.  The deadline to apply for this prestigious and competitive award is usually in September.  Visit this site for details.

NSEP Funding

Another financial aid opportunity that supports graduate students abroad is the Boren Fellowship of the National Security Education program.  See this site for details.

Other Research Opportunities

The Euroscholars Program offers an opportunity to participate in research at one of 12 high-quality research universities in the European Union.

Financial Factors

Graduate students who support themselves through research or teaching assistantships need to know that they would probably not be allowed to continue that work if going on an undergraduate global experience; in most countries, having a student visa means that you cannot work in that country. Graduate students who receive a tuition remission as part of their aid package need to understand that the fees for some Pitt global experiences programs operate outside of normal tuition and fee schedules, and they would most likely need to cover the cost of the program themselves.