First-Year Programs


In response to the growing interest in study abroad program options for freshmen, FIE began offering First-Year programs in 2008. Since that time, we have developed regular semester- and quarter-based programs with:

  • Drexel University
  • Northeastern University
  • College of Charleston

Contact us if you are interested in developing a First-Year program in London or Dublin.



 First Year Programs

Why might your institution consider a first-year program abroad?

For students, starting a college degree abroad offers an international perspective that will guide and inform the entirety of their undergraduate career. Many students will choose to study abroad again later in their degree program after participating in a first-year program.

For institutions, first-year programs can serve as an effective enrollment management tool or an enticement for the best and brightest applicants. Universities can offer a first-year fall option to spring-admitted students as a way for those students to make progress toward their degrees and to retain them for the spring-admit pool. First-year programs can focus on a particular major or college within an institution, and others are open to all incoming freshmen. Some schools offer highly selective first-year programs as an enrollment highlight for their top-tier applicants.

Whatever the motivation or focus, FIE can help build a comprehensive first-year program tailored to your institution.

What can students do academically on a first-year program?

FIE will help your institution develop and deliver freshman-specific courses, such as Writing and Composition, so first-year students come back to campus having met their initial academic requirements. In London, students generally participate in courses developed for and delivered specifically to their first-year cohort. In Dublin, students often take one or two closed-cohort classes and integrate with Irish and international students at one of FIE’s affiliated institutions for the rest of their academic work. In both locations, all of FIE’s first-year programs include a core course in either British or Irish Life and Culture that has been adjusted to the first-year level.

Each FIE-taught course will involve extensive co-curricular excursions in order to take advantage of the outstanding learning environments of London or Dublin. These excursions also serve to enhance the group dynamic and, with good branding, connect the students more deeply to their home-school culture, which can be threaded throughout the course topics.

How are these less-experienced students supported?

FIE has in place extensive academic feedback structures and student support services to monitor the students’ academic achievements and create social experiences suitable for the first-year audience. FIE’s Student Life team has extensive experience with the first-year demographic. FIE recognizes the need to engage more frequently with this young population than with our more independent upperclassmen, and as such, first-year students are involved in a rigorous and nurturing schedule in and out of the classroom.

FIE also welcomes home school staff if an institution wishes to send them to support the program. Some schools hire their own Resident Directors to work in concert with FIE’s Student Life team. Others appoint one or two upperclassmen to accompany the group as Resident Advisors.

How can a first-year abroad experience improve retention?

One FIE first-year partner has conducted research on first-year abroad retention and has found a significantly higher graduation rate for this population. With strong home-school branding during the term abroad, students form secure bonds with their peers and their home institution. Schools have found that the relationships that grow among the first-year students during their overseas term often remain strong throughout the students’ undergraduate experience.

How do students integrate effectively into the home-school campus after their term abroad?
Most institutions plan events on campus for the return of their first-year study abroad students and work closely with on-campus housing for student placement. A re-entry course can also be offered to assist students with the adjustment process and help them contextualize their term abroad within their continuing degree program.

To learn more about FIE’s First-Year Programs, please contact Erika Richards, Vice President - Institutional Relations