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International News | July 27, 2021

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Expanding Access & Student Success: Virtual Study Abroad Programs

Expanding Access & Student Success: Virtual Study Abroad Programs

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| On 19, Feb 2021

Students Benefit from New, Affordable Virtual Offerings

With international travel severely restricted throughout 2020, extreme limitations have continued into 2021. The disruptive effects of the global pandemic put a jarring halt on traditional on-location study abroad programs worldwide. But innovative thinking flourished at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus. Faculty and the team in Global Education: Study Abroad, Office of International Affairs, actively partnered together to create new opportunities for students amidst the challenges.  The result is an exciting way for students to achieve a unique study abroad experience — through a virtual study abroad program.  


Virtual study abroad programs offer major benefits, similar to on-location programs. For students who are not planning to travel internationally while they are in college, virtual study abroad opens a window to the world, right from their own home. Students who do plan to travel in the future are able to dive deeply into their favorite subjects in advance.

Affordable, practical, and accessible to more CU Denver | CU Anschutz students, the virtual study abroad programs are designed to augment the CU Denver student success experience. Three course credits can be earned per program. Students gain valuable knowledge relevant to their degree program, their area of interest, and enlarge their perspective and understanding of their roles as modern global citizens.


Virtual and on-location study abroad programs enhance a student’s resume/CV; global educational experiences are looked upon favorably by potential employers. The Global Education: Study Abroad office works closely with faculty and staff to provide students with interviewing tips and professional resources after course completion. Students report that virtual and on-location study abroad experiences contribute to their personal growth and provide new networking contacts.

 “The virtual study abroad program opened new doors for me,” explained Max Morgan, who enrolled in a virtual study abroad three-week program, Danish Solutions to Sustainability. “We learned about a few companies in Denmark, and you’re sitting there as a student thinking, ‘I would love to work for one of these companies, but what’s in my backyard?’ And lo and behold, some of these Danish entities are right here in Colorado.”


CU Denver faculty and university staff are exchanging more details about best practices for developing effective virtual study abroad programs, and faculty are meeting with success. In current as well as future business and academic settings, virtual and hybrid programs are predicted to continue as compelling options, even when onsite locations are fully operational again.

Global Education: Study Abroad is hosting an informal panel webinar, Take Your Teaching Worldwide–With Study Abroad Virtual Programs, on Thursday, February 25, 10:00 -11:00 AM MT featuring two CU Denver faculty. E.J. Yoder, PhD, Senior Instructor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Jamie Van Leeuwen, Ph.D., MA, MPH, School of Public Affairs. Both panelists’ Winterim 2020 virtual study abroad programs were well received, and are being offered again for Maymester 2021.

The panelists will walk participants through:

  • suggested steps to creating an effective virtual study abroad program
  • first-hand information about the challenges/solutions for pivoting from onsite to online
  • working with colleagues and contacts in other countries
  • examples of enthusiastic student responses, outcomes, and successes

Participants are welcome to drop in to a portion of the webinar or attend for the full hour, and bring their questions. To register, or for questions in advance, email [email protected], or send the office a chat.  


The Office of International Affairs collaborates with other departments in the university’s travel risk management group to provide the latest international travel advisories and resources for students, faculty, and staff. 

Catherine Ebert-Gray, Director of Global Education: Study Abroad, attended a recent webinar hosted by International SOS (ISOS), a 24/7 worldwide health, security, travel and emergency assistance provider. ISOS reported that Boeing has teamed up with other manufacturers, airlines, and industry leaders to study airport and plane pandemic risks, solutions, and findings.  According to their sources, there have been less than 60 known transmissions of COVID-19 out of 1.9 billion global passengers, and 60% of U.S. companies are now approving air travel.

As travels within the U.S. become safer and the effects of the pandemic subside, new domestic Global Education: Study Abroad on-location programs are being planned. CU Denver | CU Anschutz students will be able to travel and learn within the United States.

Students who are in degree programs such as International Studies and International Business, as well as other disciplines, often have questions about developing a successful career abroad following graduation. CU Denver | CU Anschutz students have a definite advantage. Ebert-Gray is a recently retired U.S. ambassador with a distinguished 30+ year career in foreign service. She brings a wealth of information to share with students and her schedule is accessible to any student who would like to make an appointment to learn more. Ebert-Gray is also a board member of World Denver and several globally-focused organizations.

For students and faculty at the University of Colorado | Anschutz Medical Campus, virtual study abroad programs will remain a dynamic learning option.

“We really think virtual study abroad programs are here to stay for those students who can’t travel overseas, but they understand the value and importance of growing their global lens,” said Ebert-Gray.

Learn more:

Office of International Affairs

Global Education: Study Abroad

OIA International Newsroom