Study Abroad

Photo of a group of students overlooking a body of water

There are many ways for Human Development and Family Studies majors to gain international experience, from a ten-day faculty-led study tour, to summer courses or internships abroad, to studying at a partner university for a semester or academic year. Study abroad can take you to destinations all around the world – from South America, to Europe, to Asia – via programs offered by the College of ACES, other colleges on campus, the Study Abroad Office and third party providers. Almost 50 percent of HDFS students participate in at least one study abroad experience during their years at UIUC!

One of the most popular opportunities for our students is the 3-week Service-Learning Study Tour in Cape Town, South Africa.  As part of that experience, students volunteer in health-care clinics, shelters, schools, facilities for children with physical disabilities, or another site best suited to their interests. They also experience the spectacular landscape and diverse culture of South Africa.  Great preparation for a variety of careers and an unforgettable, transformative learning experience!  Here's a video about this trip:

Photo of a group of students on steps outside of a building

A new and exciting opportunity for our students is a 3-week Cultural Immersion Study Tour in Ghana. Students will experience the diversity of family and community life as we engage directly with community members in small, rural villages and major urban centers and participate in cultural excursions as we travel across five of the ten regions in Ghana. Students will have the opportunity to visit families in their homes in a Paga village, make shea butter in M’ba Naa-yili, participate in cultural dances in Tamale, meet sacred monkeys in Boabeng-Fiema, and learn about traditional Kente cloth weaving in Adanwomase. We will also explore many of the sites associated with the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade as we make our way down from the northern border to the coast including the Pikworo Slave Camp, the old slave market in Salaga, the place of the last bath in Assin Manso, and the slave dungeons in Elmina and Cape Coast. This program will help you understand the role Ghana, and larger Western Africa, played in shaping American identities and give you the opportunity to value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures. Join us for the trip of a lifetime! 

You'll find a wealth of information in the ACES Study Abroad planning pages, including tips on how to identify a program that's right for you and lists of top programs by country and major.

How to get started finding your own study abroad experience

  • Know your options! Search for programs at
  • Go to the Study Abroad Office (SAO) reference room in 115 ISB (910 S. Fifth Street).
  • Watch the First Steps video
  • Meet with the College of ACES International Education Director in 123 Mumford Hall. To set up an appointment, call 217-333-3380.
  • Talk to HDFS and other students who have already studied abroad.

Sample Four-Year Plans for Study Abroad

Most students find a semester-long study abroad experience fits best during their junior year, and that planning needs to begin about a year in advance. If you're thinking about study abroad, be sure to work with your academic advisor to plan your course work so that your time overseas won't disrupt your regular progress toward your degree. You can also work with your advisor as you identify which courses you might take overseas. Click on the appropriate link below to see a sample 4-year plan for your HDFS concentration that includes a fall or spring semester study abroad experience:

Don't Overlook HDFS Study Tours!

HDFS faculty members in collaboration with colleagues overseas offer study tour opportunities for HDFS and other interested students. A three-week winter-break tour to Cape Town combines an introduction to the history, politics and culture of South Africa with volunteer work in local clinics, child-care facilities, shelters, etc. During a two-week summer tour to Brazil, students see first-hand how families in different communities respond to the variety of living situations in that remarkably diverse country. For more information about these and other study abroad opportunities, visit the Study Abroad Office's Illinois Programs page, or contact the HDFS advising coordinator, Barbara Anderson.