Study Abroad Requirement

All Art and Design students who began their time at ACU during the Fall of 2018 or later are required to complete one of the study abroad opportunities described below. The following are just a few reasons why we believe this requirement has the power to ignite a life of creativity.  

Tradition

Having thus travelled through the heart of France, we determined to take shipping for Italy, being impatiently desirous of viewing a country…which is at present the greatest school of music and painting, contains the noblest productions of statuary and architecture…and collections of all kinds of antiquities.

Charles Thompson, 1744

For hundreds of years an essential part of an artist’s training was a journey to see, in-person, the greatest museums and architecture in Europe—particularly in Italy.  This educational pilgrimage was called a Grand Tour.

One of the reasons we value a Study Abroad experience for our students is so that they can participate in this time-honored rite of passage, forging a connection to the thousands of artists who have come before them.  We want our students to understand that they don’t exist in a vacuum and aren’t at the center of the artistic universe. We want our students to feel small, in the best way possible. We believe that undertaking a Grand Tour to time-honored places of aesthetic significance builds humility, and that humility is not only a Christian, but also an artistic, virtue.  

Creative Character

The challenges and struggles that come with studying abroad build an endurance for success and a tolerance for failure that is integral to the creative life. Success in creative fields comes from a willingness to try and fail and repeat. This process often takes place outside of the artists comfort zone. It’s hard to find a better practice field for the creative process than studying abroad. Students find themselves repeatedly outside their comfort zone. Language and cultural barriers make simple acts like ordering coffee or finding a grocery store stages for failure, success, persistence and pride.

These experiences foster another central skill of the creative life, seeing the world from fresh perspectives. It is the artist who opens our eyes to new ways of seeing. They often help us see the ordinary or the common from an uncommon perspective. When visiting a new country or city we are confronted by people living out the ordinary in ways that feel unfamiliar. Students are forced to confront viewpoints and assumptions about the world that often go unexplored. Experiencing a world that contrasts with our own is exciting, challenging and transformative. Students return with a new toolbox of skills and experiences ready to be unleashed in the classroom.   

Expanding Opportunity

Much of the work we do as a department is about preparing students for opportunities. The projects, critiques, reviews, sketches, models, and countless other activities foster skills students can deploy when opportunities arise. But we don’t just prepare students for opportunities we also take seriously our responsibility to reveal opportunity. Students must have their eyes opened to the vastness of opportunities their skills can be directed. The skills taught in our classroom can be applied to creative challenges throughout the world not just in our corner of it. Study abroad has the power to unveil a world of opportunity, literally.

Building Lifelong Community

There is much value that comes with interacting with different cultures, traditions, and religion through the lens of art and design. Especially when you share those moments with peers that share the same interests. There is no better way to form lifelong relationships than to travel with your peers across the world. You will be sharing rooms together. You may indulge in some of the best pasta, pizza, and gelato together. Most importantly, together you get to experience some of the most significant art and architecture in the world. Sharing these moments forges bonds that not only deepen the college experience but can literally last a lifetime.  

Beyond the Textbook

When charged with the task of learning a new language, the quickest way is often total immersion. A textbook has limited power and depth to present the language and history of art in a manner that is truly formational. And much of that history is found beyond our borders. Study abroad provides students with repeated moments of impact that have the power to transform facts from a textbook into meaningful, lifelong knowledge.

Art & Design Study Abroad Opportunities


England & Italy: Oxford, Rome & Florence – Summer

This is an incredible 7 week experience beginning in Oxford, England. Some of the unforgettable experiences in England include multiple trips to London for museum visits and other historical sites. We also take an overnight excursion to the Peaks District in northern England for more site visits and inspiring landscape painting. From England we head to Rome where we spend a week experiencing some of the most significant artistic achievements in history of western art. This is matched only by the last three weeks winding down in Florence, Italy. Florence was home to some of the biggest names in the history of art and it continues to prove life changing for all who visit.

  • Course Credit: A total of 9 credit hours will be offered: Art History Survey II, Plein Air Painting and Street Photography
  • Duration: 7 Weeks – Summer
  • Approximate Cost: $7,000

Germany: Leipzig – Summer

This four-week experience will embed students in a city that is both one of the white-hot centers of contemporary art and one of the most venerable historical centers of graphic design and book arts in all of Europe.  With Leipzig as a headquarters, we will make excursions to Berlin and Prague, encounter Bauhaus architecture in the beautiful town of Weimar, tour dozens of cutting-edge art studios, and wrestle with the horrors of the Holocaust at Buchenwald concentration camp.  Visit castles, climb mountains, paint outdoors, and walk in the footsteps of great German artists in this dynamic and scenic encounter with European art!

  • Course Credit: A total of 6 hours credit will be offered: Art History Survey II and either On-site Painting or Photography (depending on faculty).
  • Approximate Cost: $5,000
  • Duration: 4 Weeks – Summer

New York City: Fine Art/Interior Design – Spring Break

This one-week joint Fine Art/ Interior Design trip will be built around visits to some of the greatest museums in New York (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Frick Collection, and others), as well as walking tours of New York City’s architectural masterworks.

In addition to these group excursions, the Fine Art cohort will take a deep dive into the most vibrant gallery scene in the world, observing contemporary art trends, and discussing and processing these trends in an evening discussion format.  We will also make behind-the-scenes visits to studios and museums to plumb the inner workings of the art business.

The Interior Design group will visit interior design studios, as well as the New York Design Center, a trade building and the industry’s premier resource for fine furnishings.

We will also take specialized architectural tours to explore building styles ranging from Art Deco to Gothic Revival and beyond, as well as visit some of the top interior design spaces within the city. 

Combine all these experiences with on-the-spot lectures and discussions and what you get is one of the richest visual encounters you can possibly have in “The City That Never Sleeps.”

  • Approximate Cost: $1,700
  • Duration: 1 Week – Spring Break

New York City/San Francisco: Graphic Design – Spring Break

This one-week trip is offered every year, rotating between New York City and San Francisco. Together we visit the best design studios, agencies and in-house creative teams in the world. Students get a glimpse of what it would be like to work for different types of creative studios (branding, print, interactive), large and small, and have intimate conversations with the directors of those offices. These visits often help give our students direction in what environment they see themselves working in and what type of design they would like to concentrate on. We will visit 2 studios a day and your evenings are free to explore the big city, indulge in amazing food, museums and Broadway shows. This is a popular trip and fills up within minutes of accepting deposits. Save up and join us for this incredible experience!

Studios and agencies we have visited are Pentagram, Milton Glaser, Louise Fili, Steven Heller at the School of Visual Arts MFA Design program, Original Champions of Design, Dress Code, Digitaus, Etsy, Open, 8 ½, Deborah Adler and the Type Directors Club.

  • Approximate Cost: $1,700
  • Duration: 1 Week – Spring Break

ACU Study Abroad Opportunities

Semester-Long Programs: England, Germany, Uruguay

ACU offers fantastic semester long experiences in England, Germany and Uruguay. Our faculty have participated in all 3 programs and can testify to the life changing power of spending a semester abroad. It is difficult to overstate the impact of living in another country. Simple experiences like grocery shopping, walking to a worship service and volunteering take on new meaning when not in your home country. We enthusiastically encourage you to research these opportunities and find a trip that’s right for you.

  • Approximate Cost: $6,000 (scholarships often available)
  • Duration: Full Semester
  • More Information: Link to Website

World Wide Witness

For those with a heart for missions World Wide Witness may be a great options. WorldWide Witness summer internships began in 2002 and since then has sent nearly 1000 students to 40+ locations around the world. WWW’s emphasis on pre-summer training, an 8-10 week timeframe, mentorship from experienced host supervisors, and its follow-up with each student after the summer are all reasons this program is so highly regarded by its participants and partners. To participate in a WWW internship, students are required to take the spring class, BMIS 391 Service in Global Contexts, which prepares them to be a welcomed asset by their host site for their two month experience. The class focuses on building a healthy perspective missionally, culturally, spiritually, and mentally before students embark on teams for their summer of service.

Types of WorldWide Witness internships vary from location to type of ministry undertaken but all have the same goal: to deepen students’ cross-cultural understanding and their heart for the completion of the Great Commission. WWW interns live with their missionary hosts or with local families during their internship, working alongside the local missionaries on a daily basis. Interns are typically sent in pairs, just as Jesus sent His disciples in pairs (Luke 10:1).

  • Approximate Cost: Fundraising is part of the program
  • Duration: 8 Weeks Approximately – Summer
  • More Information: Link to Website

Scholarships & Financial Aid

All Freshman will be individually interviewed and have an opportunity to express financial circumstances and need. We are making efforts to support this requirement financially as much as possible. That said, our department has limited funds. Our effort will be to work closely with those in the most need and assist in finding sources of support.