“What better way to examine the multiple ways that political problems and questions cross borders than by living and studying abroad?
Politics majors – open yourself to intellectually and culturally challenging experiences, explore how politics is lived and experienced in different places, and learn how to ask and navigate some of the most difficult political questions that emerge from cross-cultural encounters - in other words, study abroad!”
– Shampa Biswas, Associate Professor, Politics

Off-Campus Studies Mission Statement

Off-Campus Studies at Whitman College aims to develop in our students intercultural skills and global understanding for a lifetime of leadership. We endeavor to achieve this goal by:

  • Providing off-campus study opportunities worldwide that offer high-quality academic content, instruction and evaluation.
  • Expanding learning opportunities for students and integrating the learning off-campus into their academic program to the fullest extent possible.
  • Promoting programs that increase a student’s foreign language and intercultural fluency.
  • Offering programs that foster an ability to question assumptions and think critically in the context of other worldviews.
  • Ensuring that programs are well integrated into the host community and encourage immersion of the student into the host culture. 
  • Developing the means by which returning students can actively contribute to international awareness and programming on campus, as well as in the Walla Walla community.

Off-Campus Studies can help Politics students…

  • Learn about the salience and expressions of politics in other countries and regions, such as different political institutions and movements; the most pressing political issues, problems and concerns in other contexts; how people think and talk about politics, etc.
  • Improve foreign language skills
  • Develop global perspectives
  • Gain primary research skills from field studies or work with primary sources
  • Expand cross-cultural communication and problem-solving skills

What are the types of OCS programs recommended by the Politics department?

  • Programs that offer an opportunity for independent study research
  • Field study programs with opportunities to engage in research with the local community
  • Programs that offer an opportunity for an internship or service learning embedded in an academic course as part of the program
  • Programs that offer an opportunity to increase proficiency in foreign language skills or learn a new language in the context of an academic experience.
  • Direct enrollment in a foreign university with local students

How does a semester or year of OCS help students in Politics prepare for graduate school or various career opportunities? 

  • For students seeking graduate degrees in Political Science, Public Policy and Law (these are the areas most commonly chosen by our majors), a study abroad experience helps students understand the conduct and study of politics from a comparative and global perspective.
  • Living and studying overseas, especially in relatively challenging physical and cultural contexts, help students develop essential skills for cultural negotiation and critical thinking that are increasingly necessary in most careers, whether pursued in the U.S. or abroad.
  • Study abroad experiences help students gain and enhance foreign language acquisition, which makes graduate student applications and job applications stronger.
  • OCS programs that include collaborative work with community partners exposes students to future career possibilities, organizations and networks.

Which requirements can Politics majors fulfill while off campus?

  • Elective major credit at the 100 or 200-level.  (The 300-400 level politics courses required for the major should be taken at Whitman.)*
  • General Studies distribution credit
  • General degree credit

*Students who wish to have OCS courses considered for 300 or 400-level politics credit must save all course work and syllabi to share with their major advisor for upper-division credit consideration upon return.

Planning Tips

As a general rule of thumb, the Politics Department recommends the following for students who wish to study off campus.


  • Prior to studying off campus, students should take at least one 300-400 level Politics course.  We recommend that students meet with their Politics major adviser when planning for off-campus studies and keep in mind when courses are offered here at Whitman.
  • Politics majors do not usually base their senior thesis on research undertaken during study abroad; however, the off-campus studies experience often informs and inspires the senior thesis.  Consult with your major advisor prior to studying off campus about research abroad and senior thesis.

Credit Limitations

The maximum number of credits that can be applied to the Politics major from off campus studies (including credits from other U.S. institutions) is 8 credits with the approval of your major adviser.  Of those 8 credits, the maximum number of upper-division credits that can be transferred from off-campus studies towards the major is 4 credits.

Which Partner Programs are recommended by the Politics department?

The Politics department has multiple goals that they like to see their students pursue through an off-campus studies program, so a wide range of programs and locations is recommended.

Advising Support

Students interested in Off-Campus Studies should attend an OCS First Step meeting in the fall of their second year, discuss their interests with their major adviser, and schedule an appointment with an OCS adviser.