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First-Semester Study Abroad

Set the tone for your college career with an inaugural semester in Florence, Italy; Madrid, Spain; or Strasbourg, France.

Designed for select first-semester students with an interest in the liberal arts, engineering, computer science, natural sciences, or a pre-med track, Syracuse University's Discovery Programs provide an international foundation that expands your academic and professional options, foreign language proficiency, and comprehension of global politics and issues.

Program Features

As a Discovery student, you’ll spend your first semester in Florence, Italy ; Madrid, Spain ; or Strasbourg, France before enrolling in classes on Syracuse University’s home campus the following January.

  • You’ll enjoy small class sizes and specialized curriculum as you form strong bonds with fellow students.
  • Your intellectual development and personal well-being will be nurtured by experienced faculty and international staff.
  • Carefully-chosen home-stay living arrangements mean you’ll enjoy home-cooked meals and a deeper cultural immersion experience.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to travel, volunteer, and participate in extra-curricular activities.
  • Full-time staff members will assist with your transition to college life abroad.

The Discovery Program covers all first-year requirements needed by students on Syracuse University’s home campus.* This means that when you transition to Syracuse in the spring semester, you will be on equal academic footing with your main campus peers.

*Note: If you are interested in a natural science, mathematics, pre-med track, engineering, or computer science, you should apply to Discovery Madrid as this is the only center that offers the required first-semester courses in these programs.

Is Discovery Right for You?

You may be a good candidate for the Discovery Program if you… 

  • Wish to study abroad immediately, rather than waiting
  • Are interested in the liberal arts, engineering or computer science
  • Are a leader in your school and community
  • Possess intellectual curiosity and are ready for a transformative experience
  • Love to learn through doing and seeing
  • Have international travel experience or a keen interest in it
  • Will feel comfortable immersing yourself in a different culture
  • Have the maturity to balance academics, travel, and living abroad

What to Expect

  • Experienced staff members are available on-campus and at Syracuse centers to assist with your transition to life abroad and later to the campus in Syracuse.
  • Upon arrival to your program, you’ll take part in a Full Immersion Weekend, which allows you to spend time with your host family and to become familiar with Syracuse facilities and the surrounding city. Most other weekends are open for field study or independent travel.
  • All Discovery students participate in the abroad equivalent of the First Year Forum offered by the College of Arts and Sciences on Syracuse’s main campus. The goal is to orient you to college life, Syracuse University, and studying abroad. You’ll discuss host families, cultural adjustment, time management, study habits, expectations of college-level courses, choosing a major, and more.
  • After the Discovery semester, students are guaranteed on-campus housing in Syracuse and are assigned to a room either with, or near, fellow Discovery students. This facilitates an easier transition to residence hall living.

Already Living in Europe?

Discovery Programs enable international students to transition into an American-style university experience while remaining closer to home for the first semester.


Syracuse University Office of Admissions

Syracuse University Abroad Office

Connect with Syracuse Abroad through general advising sessions or program appointments. Drop-in or schedule a virtual or in-person advising session at SyracuseAbroad@Bird Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or, schedule an appointment to meet with a Syracuse Abroad program advisor. View all advising options View all advising options.