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Dec, 05 2016

​Want to study abroad! Check out the dos and don'ts

Sometimes, the choice of subjects creates confusion. In such cases, students must keep their larger career goals in mind and select subjects that align with their career objectives.

Stanford University describes the humanities as "the wide spectrum of subjects which explores how people process, document and think about human experience of the past and present to shape the future." This definition encompasses a gamut of majors that students can opt for at many universities overseas. Most courses fall under the umbrella popularly called a 'liberal arts' education.

A humanities student may choose from a number of courses in concentrations including archaeology, anthropology, Asian studies, creative writing, cognitive studies, cultural studies, economics, gender studies, history, law, linguistics, literature, psychology, philosophy, political science, international relations, religious studies, sociology, speech and more. Digital humanities is a new major offered at liberal arts colleges in the US. The subject merges computer science with the humanities. Students who take courses in digital humanities overseas are engaged in projects in 3D mapping, algorithmic literary analysis, advanced visualisation techniques and digitisation of textual languages, building new ways of sharing information, and more.


Students who wish to enrol on a humanities course abroad must apply to a university a few months ahead of the intake. They need to fill application forms online. They also have to send supporting documents, including academic transcripts of four years, reference letters, financial documents and a statement of purpose, to the university. Applicants are also required to take IELTS or TOEFL if they wish to study overseas. Some courses may require them to take additional entrance tests such as the SAT for undergraduate study or the GRE/GMAT for postgraduate courses, especially in the US.


The best way to appreciate a society's history, culture, customs, and traditions is to experience them first-hand by interacting with students from different countries. Close interaction with peers from diverse nations ensures that humanities students learn inside as well as outside the classroom. Most courses are often interlinked and designed to give students a holistic view of society. Each involves discussions that encourage students to look at the same human experience through different lenses. The diversity on international campuses provides opportunities for talk and debate. Students are encouraged to ask questions and piece together the cause-and-effect relationships of 'seen and unseen' factors. This helps them develop critical thinking, together with an unbiased approach to working. For example, you learn to connect the art of an era with the literature, political ideology and economic well-being of that society. Lateral thinking helps in policymaking as much as in legal arguments.

Pick carefully

US universities are highly flexible, allowing students to possibly choose from more than 80 subjects through each semester. Other countries require a student to start with a choice of three-four subjects, narrowing down to one as a major in the final year of study. Sometimes, the choice of subjects creates confusion. In such cases, students must keep their larger career goals in mind and select subjects that align with their career objectives.

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