Venturesome or virtual, more summer students study abroad or online

Reflecting the polarities of contemporary scholarship, the number of University of California, Berkeley, students studying or working abroad this summer has multiplied, as has the number of students taking courses from their home desktops or laptops.

More students are taking advantage of UC Berkeley’s Study Abroad and Global Internships programs

UC Berkeley Summer Sessions begins today (Tuesday, May 28). Nearly 600 UC Berkeley students (at least 150 more than last year) are fanning out across the globe to destinations in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Jordan, India, Kenya and Spain this summer as part of UC Berkeley’s Study Abroad and Global Internships programs.

To make overseas study more affordable, the campus has created $1,500 scholarships for UC Berkeley students whose “expected family income” is less than $50,000.

UC Berkeley’s goal has been to triple the number of students studying abroad. One popular destination is Madrid

“The goal set by the chancellor and provost was to triple the number of UC Berkeley students studying abroad, and we’re getting there,” said Richard Russo, dean of Berkeley Summer Sessions, Berkeley Study Abroad and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Meanwhile, the number of students taking online courses has increased since last year from 1,200 to 1,600. Online offerings include courses in African American studies, astronomy, chemistry, molecular and cell biology, political science, psychology, statistics and English as a second language.

This year’s summer enrollment is approximately 16,000, and includes 12,000 UC Berkeley students and 4,000 visitors, of which 3,000 are from overseas. The program offers more than 500 courses on campus during five sessions that range in length from three to 10 weeks and end in mid-August.

Topical or intriguing classes being taught on campus this summer include “High School, The Movie,” “Sports: a lens on American culture,” “The anthropology of food,” “Death dreams and visions in Tibetan Buddhism,” “Communication for leaders,” “Sierra Nevada ecology,” “American cybercultures” and “The peculiar modernity of Britain.”

For those seeking an off-campus adventure while earning academic credits and work experience, international study and internships may be their best bet. For example, students enrolled in the new program at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India, will take a course at the college, serve an internship at a local nonprofit and connect with other Study Abroad students via an online UC Berkeley faculty-led course on a topical subject selected by the program.

Singapore is a popular option for students seeking work experience in the financial sector

Interns are not just making photocopies and bringing people coffee. Their jobs can be quite challenging and rewarding. For example, Russo said, last summer, a business major on a summer internship at a bank in Singapore indentified a major money-saving fix that landed him a job offer.

UC Berkeley first offered summer study in 1899, with 37 courses and 433 students. Faculty typically makes up 10 percent of Summer Sessions instructors, with lecturers and graduate student instructors comprising the remainder. UC Berkeley students make up 75 percent of summer scholars. The remaining 25 percent of summer students include visitors from other institutions and other adult learners.

In addition to international programs and online and classroom courses, Summer Sessions offers “Freshman Edge” and “Transfer Edge,” which are early-start programs for new admits, and a pre-collegiate program for high school students.

UC undergraduate students pay $406 per unit during Summer Sessions. Financial aid and Pell Grants are available to eligible students. Typically, a UC student taking two courses this summer will pay between $2,600 and $3,400 in tuition. As for students visiting from overseas for a six-week summer session, the cost of tuition, fees and housing amounts to around $6,000, Russo said.

With the high number of visiting summer school students, housing is always in great demand, and campus residence halls are filled as well as beds at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA. For more information, visit the Summer Sessions website or Berkeley Study Abroad